When I was a child, much more so than now, I was a voracious reader. I would read anything and everything that I could get my hands on, including the labels on bottles of shampoo (a habit that I’ve yet to shake). I would read books one at a time, finishing them in the span of one day, or read up to seven books in rotation over the course of a week or two. And I knew that I was odd, unusual, that other kids would much rather watch television or listen to music. Not that I didn’t enjoy those things as well; in fact, I’ve always been able to read and remain fairly focused even when half-watching a movie or half-listening to one of my favourite songs. But I never understood why other people viewed reading as such a burden and a chore….until later.
As I got older, I broadened my literary tastes and read books that were psychologically traumatizing, emotionally draining, thought-revolutionizing and thus life-altering. I read and as a result, I felt and thought emotions and ideas which I’d previously avoided or felt myself incapable. And because I’d proactively brought it about, by greedily picking up the breadcrumbs of an author’s words and gluttonously gorging myself, the emotions were harder to shake. Unlike with music or films, where the audience responsibility ends at purchasing a ticket, turning on the radio or changing the television channel, a reader’s work isn’t done until the book ends.
With every page turned, the reader is making a conscientious decision to read, to keep reading, to risk their minds and heart. As a result, when we are moved, it is profound, it lingers, and those words live forever within us, branded into our consciousness.To read a book is to make the decision to lay yourself vulnerable to the way someone else’s mind works and trust them to take you on a voyage that won’t leave too many bumps and bruises. Besides trust, patience is also necessary, since a movie or song is much faster to get through than a novel. Sometimes, that trust is warranted. Sometimes, it’s not. But I have often found that the journeys that leave your heart wounded and your mind weary are often the most memorable of them all.