|Why I Love Books|
In the nearly two years that I’ve been CC2K’s Book Editor, I’ve spoken a lot about books I like. However, in that time, I’ve never talked about why I like books.|
Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of movies, watched a lot of TV. In fact, there were times in my life where I was spending more time in front of the television than buried in a book. Yet for some reason, it’s always books I come back to, to relax when I’m stressed, to be cheered up when I’m sad, to be motivated when I’m feeling lazy. With a book, I can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone.
I was an unpopular kid. Actually, unpopular probably isn’t the best word; “social pariah” is probably more accurate. For most of the time I was in school, I couldn’t relate to my peers on even the most basic level. So rather than spending my recesses climbing the monkey bars or playing tetherball, I spent my time curled up on a bench reading. I didn’t have real friends, so the book characters became my friends instead.
Oh, and I spent a lot of time with those friends. From my Baby-Sitter’s Club fixation in elementary school to my masochistic drive to read Lurlene McDaniel romances (which always featured teenage characters afflicted with terminal illnesses) in my early adolescence to my love affair with Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters in high school, I can mark my childhood by the books I read.
And once I grabbed on to a particular type of book—whether an author, a series, or a genre—I would read it obsessively. I’m still like that, as a matter of fact. I spent a good chunk of time while I was in college reading soft romances a la Nicholas Sparks. Then for about a year and a half I read nothing but young adult novels (which explains how I became CC2K’s resident Twilight expert). Recently, I’ve moved on to urban fantasy; I’ve got Patricia Briggs to thank for that transition.
I realize that I’ve told you the how of it, but not the why. Why are books my chosen escape, rather than another form of media? Don’t get me wrong: I love movies and television. But watching something is a passive experience: you sit back and let the story wash over you. But with a book, you’re actively engaged in the story. I like to picture the story as if it’s happening to me, as if I’m living it. I think that’s why I tend to like stories with strong, intelligent female heroines.
I spend much of my life in a Walter Mitty-like state, envisioning myself as other people in other places doing other things. I don’t know if this is healthy, really, but it’s the way I’ve always been—and the way I like to be. Let’s just face it: what happens to people in books is usually what’s more interesting than what’s happening in real life.
And then there’s the comfort of knowing how things will turn out. Once you read a book, no matter how many more times you read it, you’ll always know how it turns out. It’s nice—so much better than the uncertainty you have with real life.
And as someone who has lived a very transient lifestyle for most of her life, there’s also the comfort of knowing that, in books, you have the friends you can always visit, no matter where you go or what you’re doing.
I know it’s a little bit pathetic to admit that I spent most of my life pretending to be something and someone else, imagining friendships with people who don’t really exist. But it’s as much a part of who I am as the color of my eyes and my innate stubbornness. And I’m okay with it…and now you know why I love books.
Selected Book Releases, May 10-16
Happy: Simple Steps to Get the Most Out of Life by Ian K. Smith, M.D.
Other People's Rejection Letters: Relationship Enders, Career Killers, and 150 Other Letters You'll Be Glad You Didn't Receive by Bill Shapiro