Yes, yes, we’re all here because we love books, but what are you really getting out of it? Choosing a book is like choosing a new piece of your soul to explore, some uncharted territory within yourself you have yet to discover. I tried to analyze why I read, especially when it’s been pointed out that I’m always gushing about some fantasy or sci-fi novel or another.
When I was little, I prayed for magic. Magic of any sort. Most kids crossed their fingers for the next Pokemon game, or to go to sleep-away camp, or for a pony. I really, really just wanted some sort of magic in the world. In the little children’s reading room at the library, there was a wooden panel in the floor that I became convinced was a trapdoor into another realm, just like the fairy tale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. My head was forever halfway in the clouds as I doodled entire worlds across my homework (my teachers weren’t as enchanted).
And who knows? Maybe my magical path still awaits. Even though I never got my Hogwarts letter, chased a white rabbit down a hole, or discovered another world in my wardrobe, there’s still hope. Til then, I bide my time exploring endless universes in books where the only limit is one’s imagination. Since I haven’t quite figured out the schematics of my time travel device or my alternate-universe hopper, reading opens the door into other worlds.
As George RR Martin wrote, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… The man who never reads lives only one.”
You see, I have this theory that humans are meant to be storytellers. I can envision early man in a cave, or perched up in the trees (as is more historically accurate), telling stories in the firelight. Under the stars, they talk about dangers, about finding food, about their own lives. Their fears, their hopes, their ideas. Until the story that finally prompted them to leave the trees and the caves behind, and go out into the vast new world.
And as we pushed onward through time, we took the storytelling with us. Finding words to share our struggles and triumphs. From the oldest of tales, there have been stories that defined society, that explored relationships. Stories that marveled at the wonders of nature. Stories that grasped at providing some sort of explanation for the unexplainable.
Millennia later, we continue weaving tales. It defines the human existence, our innate need to communicate, to be heard and to hear. We may turn to dust, but our stories are carried on, paying no attention to frivolities like time or death.
All creatives want to tell a story in one way or another. Artists, sculptors, photographers. Bloggers, journalists, playwrights. Musicians, actors, directors. Stand-up comedians, event planners, and magicians. And of course, writers.
Maybe we each read the books that we do because we want to find our own story in them. So perhaps in my story, I am a manic-pixie dream girl who saves the world with the help of some newfound magical powers, and a ragtag gang of plucky misfits.
Then again, maybe I’m taking a needlessly romantic and dreamy notion about it. Maybe the majority of people just read because it beats twiddling your thumbs or getting around to cleaning your room. But I like my theory and I’m hanging onto it until proven otherwise!
So share with us! Reading brings me magic, but what’s your story? What are you reading for?
Gabriele Boland is an aspiring grown-up. She enjoys pretending she’s in a Disney movie, letting her dork flag fly, and writing stories that will never see the light of day. The other ramblings of her mind can be found at Brilliant Buckets.