I’ve loved reading and loved books from the moment I learned how to read. To be honest, I was a bit of a late bloomer in that department, and I’ve felt like I’ve been trying to catch up on the time I missed out on ever since. If you’ve found my blog and this post, my obsession with books shouldn’t come as a shock to you. Over the years I’ve grown accustomed to that one person (let’s call them Person C) in a sea of many who, upon learning that I’m an English Major, would add a comment along the lines of: “Yeah, I can’t really get into books. I can’t stay awake long enough to finish one/they’re too boring/ they don’t capture my attention like x, y, or z does/ etc.” These comments, although expected these days, still send a bit of a shock into my system. You don’t like to read? How is that even possible?
Something that happened to me the other night divides me even further from Person C. After finishing a novel I found myself physically incapable of putting it down. I was clutching it against my chest, staring off into my darkened room for an undiscernible amount of time. My eyes were still burning, fresh tears leaving their trails behind on my swollen face, my head was pounding, and my mind was -at this point- blissfully numb. Why was I in such a catatonic state in the middle of the night? Because a fictional person, someone I’ll never be able to meet except in my imagination, a collection of words on a page, died. This person died forty pages before the novel came to its conclusion, and I sobbed, uncontrollably, for forty pages.
When people tell me they don’t understand why I read, why I find enjoyment from staring at pages filled with words for hours on end, I can’t understand why they’re asking that question. I don’t understand how they’ve never felt such a physical bond to imaginary people, places, and adventures. We’re all different, we’re all unique, and maybe I am the freak in this scenario.
If I ever stop to question what kind of person I am in my everyday life, I remember moments like this night. I remember the moments when I had so much compassion, sorrow, and empathy compelled out of my soul by a mere few hundred pages of randomly assigned words that formed a fictional person, and I remember the moments I cried inconsolably over their death as if they had been a personal friend. Those are the moments I look back on and realize that I have an innate ability to be a good person. I have the ability to care for someone I’ll never meet, someone who will only exist in a book.
Perhaps that’s what separates me from those who don’t read, and I don’t mean the people who struggle to read or have learning disorders. I mean the people who really find no enjoyment from it. Authors and book lovers like to claim that those people just haven’t found the right book yet, which could very well be the case. However, I think it could be something more. By no means, am I trying to say that I believe myself, or those of us who get emotionally invested in fictional stories, to be better than those who don’t. We all have different interest, different passions, and that’s what makes this world function. Our differences help each of us play our specific role in the world. I just hope that one day I’ll come closer to discovering the answer that has eluded me for years. I hope that as I become more experienced I’ll be able to reach students who don’t like to read. I hope that as I grow, my passion for novels and for stories will grow and thrive in those I teach. My hope is that one day, I won’t feel so crazy for crying over a person who doesn’t exist.
If you were wondering what inspired this post, it was none other than Richelle Mead’s series, Vampire Academy (specifically book 3, Shadow Kiss). Here’s a Venn Diagram I made to help display some of my emotions. Yes, it contains spoilers.