Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Reading Life

Somebody once asked me why I read as much as I do. At first, I was appalled at having being asked that question, because to me, reading was an absolute necessity in life. What is life without books that keep you up all night? I never understood why certain people dismiss reading as a 'boring activity' or said that they didn't want to be 'nerdy'. What is 'nerdy' about getting going on adventures and journeys without moving an inch? What is so boring about characters that eventually become your friends? In my opinion, nothing.

As I was reading a book the other day, one of the characters had said a quote that stuck with me, and resonated deeply within me. He said 'I read to know that I am not alone'. And then it made all the sense in the world to me. While reading was one of my favourite pleasurable activities, there had always been something more to it. It wasn't just a hobby or something that I did. All my life, I have felt like I don't belong anywhere. I was the odd one out. Always. And after reading that quote, it just made complete sense.

Reading gave me the wholeness, the sense of identity and belonging that I have always craved for. In so many ways, it taught me to be okay with myself and gave me the confidence and self assurance that I have today. When I read a book, the characters become my friends. I bask in their glory, I laugh when they are happy and cry when they are unhappy. They aren't just fictional characters. They are my friends, the best ones that I have ever had.

The deaths of my favourite fictional characters affect me as much as a real person's does. In fact, after I read about Finnick Odair's death, I simply went numb and into shock, so much that I didn't even eat. That was a year ago, but even recently, I had woken up at three am and cried because I remembered it.

To most, I would be sounding like someone who needs a reality check, but I think I am doing completely fine like this. As much as the angst and pain in books hurt me, the happiness and good things make my heart beat faster. I have found myself feeling inexplicably happy, laughing until by ribs ache after reading something deliciously wonderful or bone tickling funny. These books represent life to me. They have the good times and the bad times, but ultimately, it is a journey. A journey that I would love to live to the fullest.

When I am talking about books, I cannot ignore J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. That book has shaped my life in the truest sense. It has been so influential in my life and the decisions that I make that I simply cannot hear anything against it. Her books shaped my childhood. They taught me the true meaning of friendship, bravery, loyalty, courage, love and family. It was the right guide for me at such a tender age, and I am so grateful for it. Even now, I feel so happy to learn more information about the Potter world, anything that Queen Rowling graciously provides for us. It is larger than life for me, and I will always hold it up in high regards.

Okay. Enough with the heavy duty stuff. In simple words, reading is fun. You get to fight evil wizards, take down a totalitarian government, be related to Greek and Roman Gods, protect your vampire best friend, all by simply turning a few pages. Isn't that fascinating? Once you read a good book, you aren't the same. The experiences that the characters go through never leave you. They become a part of you, as if it is something you have experienced. And in many ways, you have. Not getting to do all of that, having to live a...err...mundane life – now that seems awfully boring to me.

So next time you go around insulting people who read, or call them insane things like 'boring' (if there's one thing I am not, it is boring), remember that you are the one at a loss here. By refusing to open your mind and absorb various experiences, you are the one stuck with a boring life. I would rather be off saving the world from Lord Voldemort than shopping anyday.

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