Ok, so I’m more than a bit late in picking up this discussion*. (* Can it really be called a discussion when I’m the only one talking? Eh, why not..) In my previous post I talked about reading as an escape from reality and whether or not that is a problem. My general opinion was (and remains) that it’s not. At least not for me. Ask my husband if it’s a problem and you may get a different response. Probably something along the lines of “as long as dinner and laundry continue to happen on a semi-regular basis around here, it’s all good with me.” That’s just a guess tho. 😉
I think we have all experienced the magic of disappearing into a book and getting so wrapped up in the characters/plot that it’s a welcome respite from our day to day lives. I know for myself, growing up in a rural community with little exposure to anything out of the ordinary, books were my lifeline. I was somewhat of an odd duck as a child (ok, more than somewhat). I didn’t have a lot of friends, I wasn’t into sports, and I was more than a little chubby and kind of a geek. So I escaped social awkwardness and feelings of inadequacy by absorbing myself in the stories that I read. While most kids my age were reading Nancy Drew and Babysitter Club books, I was engrossed in books like The Good Earth, Gone With The WInd, A Tree Growns In Brooklyn, and The Grapes of Wrath. I didn’t want to read about people who were like me. I wanted to read about what else was out there.
Fast forward twenty years and while my life is undoubtedly dramatically different, some things haven’t much changed. My circle of friends is still relatively small, I’m still not into sports, am more than a little chubby, and while I may no longer be a geek, I’m universally acknowledged as being strange. (In the best of ways, of course) 🙂 I still read voraciously. I still read as an escape. Part of it is a way of learning about things I may never get to experience otherwise. For example: I love to travel, but doubt I will be able to visit all of the different places I want to go. But reading Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence and Toujours Provence gives me a lovely glimpse into the life and culture of the French countryside. Part of it is escaping to a world so completely foreign to mine that there is nothing left to remind me of my day to day stressors. Karen Moning’s Fever Series centers around a world where shadows can kill you and the walls between the realm of the Fae and realm of the rest of humanity are coming down. Definitely not your average existence.
These are just a couple of very small examples of what reading does for me. (Trust me, as verbose as this post already is, I’ve already edited out half of it). I read what I like. I read what interests me. Sometimes it’s classic literature or highly acclaimed works such as Jane Austin’s Pride & Prejudice or Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair“. More often than not, it’s the flavor of the moment, like Stephanie Meyers Twilight Series (seriously addictive and much better than I expected). I read a lot. I like it that way. I don’t believe everything I read is true (unless you read it on the internet, then it has to be true, right?) and I don’t confuse the characters I read about with real people (good thing too, since I’ve been reading a lot of vampire novels lately).
Life isn’t always pretty and it isn’t always fair. People have spent eternity coming up with different escapes from this reality. Drugs, alcohol, sex, religion…books seem pretty harmless in comparison. I’m sure there is a point where reading as an escape can be taken too far. But so far I haven’t found it.