Books are a uniquely portable magic. ~Stephen King
Since the age of five, I have been enamored by the art of storytelling. Books have always been my cornerstone, and have provided me with an imaginary world and safe space to fall back on.
As a natural Introvert and someone that grew up relatively sheltered, books always served as a companion during my greatest moments of solitude.
There has always been something comforting about holding a book in my hands, and the satisfactory feeling of each turn of the page, always anticipating every new word that would lead me closer and closer to the book’s climax and ultimate conclusion.
Universal & Foreign Emotions
There is something magical about the way people are able to weave the art of words to express emotions and human experience.
Books hold a power that help provide better insight into these experiences and emotions, even those we may not quite understand or have felt ourselves yet.
Perhaps, something we never quite realized before is now clear as day, thanks to a little clarification or a character voicing this opinion for us to soak up in our brains.
There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense.
~Pride and Prejudice
Being able to connect to an author’s thoughts or a character’s struggles reminds me that I’m never alone and that sometimes when we suffer, it is to build better character — or when we feel happy and in love, it’s perfectly acceptable to get a little distracted every once in a while to preserve our own sanity.
Authors of horror fiction like Mary Shelley (Frankenstein) and Anne Rice (Interview with a Vampire) allow us to confront our inner demons or overcome the terrors that may eat away at our very hearts.
The world to me was a secret, which I desired to discover; to her it was a vacancy, which she sought to people with imaginations of her own. ~Frankenstein
While simply living life can also teach us these emotions, books help us reflect on them or expand on them through the use of colorful language and imagery.
When I’m able to feel a character’s pain or share in their joy, it just means the author has done their job right because I am able to connect with their characters and story.
A Great Escape in Imaginary Places
If you don’t know where you are going any road can take you there.
~Alice in Wonderland
Reading a good book is like diving into another realm that inspires me and lifts me up after a long, weary day. Books have always been a way for me to open my mind and see the world from different perspectives, reminding me to also be mindful of other people’s struggles or fears.
I think this is probably one of the greatest gifts books can give you: insight into worlds we might have never thought possible or imaginable, whether the story is fantasy or fiction.
When I first read The Hobbit many years ago in middle school, I was highly intrigued by J.R.R. Tolkien's imaginary fantasy world in a place he called Middle-Earth. It allowed me to embark alongside Bilbo and the dwarves on a grand quest of triumph and danger.
Bilbo Baggins was a man of comfort and hardly ever ventured out of the Shire, but once he finally took on the job as Burglar (rather reluctantly), he realized that there was more adventure and strength in him than he ever could have imagined. The Hobbit is a story about finding the unlikely hero within us.
Reading other fantasy books like the Harry Potter series, Neverwhere, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and the Song of Ice and Fire series taught me how to expand on my imagination.
He had gone beyond the world of metaphor & simile into the place of things that are, and it was changing him. ~Neverwhere
It taught me that dreaming big could lead to fantastic stories, and through unlikely friendships, our expectations could be exceeded and our lives made all the richer.
Embracing Various Types of Authors & Genres
Through my journey of book reading, I have discovered many amazing authors of various and poignant styles.
While fantasy authors helped me envision imaginary worlds, authors that wrote contemporary or historical fiction allowed me to examine the daily lives of people from all walks of life in different parts of the world.
From authors of classical fiction, like Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice) and William Makepeace Thackeray (Vanity Fair), I am able to gain insight into the daily struggles of people from a historical viewpoint of life in 19th-century England.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein transported me back to a dismal atmosphere of 19th-century Europe, and led me into the world of the harrowing ordeals of Dr. Victor Frankenstein and his misunderstood ‘monster.’
There was a whole army of people who seemed not to have anything better to do than to try to disrupt her life, and, if they were given the opportunity, to correct the way she had chosen to live it.
~The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Psychological foreign thrillers like the Millennium series by Stieg Larsson (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) pull us into a gripping crime story set in modern-day Sweden, alongside an unlikely heroine.
Historical reimaginings like The Paris Wife (Paula McLain), takes us back in time and tells of the fictional account of twentieth-century author, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley Richardson and what her marriage must have been like with the young Mr. Hemingway during the start of his career.
Some author’s write with a more poetic flare, like Erin Morgenstern (Night Circus) and Neil Gaiman (American Gods), while other’s write in more raw and aggressive narratives, such as authors like Chuck Palahnuik (Fight Club) or Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting).
Then there’s Japanese fiction writers like Haruki Murakami, that invoke vivid imagery and make me feel like I am in a long, never-ending dream, lost in parts of Japan. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and 1Q84 are stories that are terrifyingly surreal and hold a unique voice that leaves a lasting impression.
Books are wonderful and awe-inspiring. Reading different types of genres and narrative styles has given me the ability to view the world with new eyes, and every single character in a story has left me with a better understanding of human nature, or a better feel for the strange and imaginary.
Books hold an enchanting mystery that help create pleasure, pain, misery, and joy, but all within the grasps of my fingertips. If that’s not magical or something to celebrate, then I don’t really know what is.
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