As I opened World War Z late last night I sat still for a moment and listened to the wind rattle my window. With all my music and movies and video games, the only time it is quiet in my room is when I read a book; I would include when I sleep, but I usually sleep with the TV on, and I'm aware that I snore.
There's nothing quite like when a book grabs hold of me and I can't put it down, eager for the next sentence, next page, next chapter, staying up to all hours of the night until my back and neck are sore, my fingers hurt, and my vision is hazy. Unlike a movie or video game, where I am forced into one vision as events unfold, a book offers me an escape that is dependent on my imagination alone. I doubt few people, though they read the same passage, envision the same characters or setting. Even the action might vary.
Since I picked up The Hobbit years ago, the countless worlds and people within books have fascinated me, and an author with a knack for turning a phrase is just as intriguing. Reading offers an outlet for the problems and monotony of life, as well as ways to hone my own craft--sometimes, the worst books can help me learn more about the art of writing than a good book. It's a great way to wind down at the end of a day too, and along with experiencing a tale, playing a movie in our minds, we expand our vocabulary, develop better grammar, and discover truths, falsehoods, and philosophies. We think and question the world, a trait I find people that do not read often lack.
When I don't read, I don't have an urge to write. When I'm not writing regularly, I also stop drawing; I get bitter and depressed and lose hope, so I try to always have a book in waiting. I have asked for books every Christmas and birthday since I was eleven, and the only problem I have this time of year is trying to decide which book to read first.
This past week, I have had my new books stacked on an end table near my TV chair. As I have done every year prior, I rummage through them, flip the pages, smell the paper, read the inserts, the first and last sentence, and the blurbs from critics while I debate which book it's going to be. Am I going to combat an army of zombies or should I revisit Pennywise's torment of children? Should I hear the call of Cthulhu or better my knowledge on 1930s gangsters?
I love reading--I wish everyone did.