What with World Book Day being this week I felt like it was about time to post just why I love books so much. I feel like I might have dropped a few subtle hints about my love for books over the past few years (ahem) but I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned just how important they are as well.
I have an absolute passion for reading. I read before bed, I read making dinner, I read on the train. I wish I could read in the shower but until they mass-produce some kind of waterproof paper I fee like that may just be a pipe dream. When I read Harry Potter I loved it so much and was so immersed that I walked into a wall, I was late for work, I got on the wrong train home. I cannot walk into a bookshop without buying something and I certainly can’t throw a book away… I have enough trouble donating them to charity. I recently added a new shelf to my room for my books and ended up filling it before I had a chance to marvel at the new shelf space. Last week I even had the opportunity to touch some books from the 15th century. Most people I tell think this would be a complete waste of an afternoon but to me it was amazing. I touched something that was written SIX HUNDRED years ago! Someone planned, wrote and read that beautiful book that long ago and I get to touch it in the 21st century!
Why do I love books so much? Because they are important.
In a world where we spend so much time on our phones and looking at the TV, books are one of the few ways that we can still use our imagination and really work our brains to create and picture the world that the author is handing to us on the page. You can’t read a book without picturing the characters, you can’t read a book without imagining what might come next. My imagination is incredibly strong but I don’t think this was chance, I think that’s because I read so much. I don’t think I got lucky by being able to tell a good story, I got that skill from reading.
When I read a book I feel unstoppable. I feel like I’ve fallen head-first into a new world and I feel intelligent. You can learn so much from reading books that you would never know otherwise. For instance, even as a history student who has far more opportunity to learn about culture and history, I never knew anything about 1960s Africa until I read Half of a Yellow Sun. I am aware that the book is fiction, but it was written by someone who really knew and understood what it was like back then. Now, although I do not claim to be an expert, I have an understanding of a culture that I never had before. All thanks to reading. Similarly, how would I ever be able to talk about 1700s culture for women if I’d never read Jane Austen? Even romantic comedies offer new opinions and cultures that I wouldn’t have come across in my life without reading them! How would I know what it feels like to loose your husband if I’d never read If You Could See Me Now? There are so many worlds out there which can teach you about cultures you may never have the chance to understand, and they don’t all need to be history books. Of course, travelling to these countries and seeing them first hand cannot be mirrored in a book, but can you go back three hundred years any better way than by immersing yourself in book pages? Speaking as a historian I know for a fact that books are usually all we have to understand cultures and people of the past (and archeology, I don’t want to offend anyone!)
Also, books are fun! I laughed just as much when reading John O’ Farrell’s An Impartial History of Britain as I did when watching a comedy TV show. Except, unlike a TV show, my mind was doing the work in imagining everything. I had to create the characters in my head, not just sit there while they were put in front of me. And let’s be honest… is there any better feel and smell than that of a new book?
Happy belated World Book Day everyone!