I don’t know about you, but I’ve loved reading ever since I could decipher the jumbled mess of letters strewn across the page in front of me; curling up with a book and a cup of tea has always appealed to me far more than watching television or going for a run. Then again, almost anything appeals to me more than going for a run…I digress – this post isn’t about my utter distaste for exercise of any sort (unless it involves lifting as much confectionary to my lips as I possibly can at once, that is), it’s about my unadulterated infatuation with language. This post is about falling for fictional characters, about spending your whole day ensconced in a fantasy world – this post is about the beauty, the sadness, the pain and the cathartic release that reading can bring. This post is a love letter to all the authors that have changed my life with their words.
The sad thing is, I truly don’t believe that the aforementioned writers know just how much power they wield: they can change lives, scratch that, they have changed lives, they do change lives; they can provide an escape, a whole new existence; they can enrich or destroy, heal or break; writers are the creators of life, of death, of tragedy and loss, of contentment and muted bliss. Writers are a fundamental part of our society, and – in an age where only Instagram likes and viral Facebook statuses seem to be able to validate us – it is important that they know just how relevant their work continues to be. Of course, their job isn’t quite the same as it once was (whose is?) – they have different audiences, they don’t have the same constraints placed upon them; they are free to be controversial or innocuous, nuanced or all-encompassing. Yet, this liberation doesn’t always prove to be a good thing – it is easier for them to be targeted by people who oppose their views, and they are much more exposed to the general public than they were before. For example, if a book of theirs isn’t too good in one person’s opinion, then everyone and their dog knows about it.
So, we’ve established that their are pros and cons to being an author in 2017 (and the years both preceding and proceeding it), but what about actually reading the things that authors present to us? That hasn’t changed much, which – in my mind – is a good thing. Whether you prefer to read electronically or with the physical book nestled comfortably in your outstretched palms, you will still devour the words, the imagery, the diegesis with as much fervour and adoration as you would have done fifty, sixty, seventy years ago. The only notable difference between us current book lovers and our older counterparts is that we forget to read far too often. We’re all guilty of it, even those of us who would probably rather spend our last moments writing elegies to our favourite book characters than talking to our families. We are so wrapped up in school or work, so consumed with societal pressures to devote our every waking moment to whichever cause we have chosen to stand behind, that we forget just how amazing reading is. We forget that it’s okay to spend an evening immersed in an utterly fictional realm when everything starts getting a little too intense, we forget that we don’t need to feel guilty, or like we’re wasting time, if we sit down, close our eyes and listen to an audiobook for an hour or so, we forget that reading is as important as sleeping and eating. We forget, we forget, we forget.
It is only in the last couple of days, where I have made a valiant effort to do absolutely nothing pertaining to education with my time, that I have remembered exactly why I loved books in the first place. If you’re new to this blog, then you won’t know, but I’m blind, and have been for two years. Hence, I’m trying to improve my Braille skills by physically reading more, as opposed to just listening to books on Audible (although I’ll still do this, of course). So, now that I finally have a little bit of freedom, I decided to read the entirety of ‘The Perks of Being a Wall Flower’ in Braille this summer. That may not sound like much of a feat, but for a relatively new Braillist, the prospect is petrifying! I thought that I’d hate it, abhor how long it took my stumbling fingers to decode the letters and words, I thought that I’d give up after the first paragraph or so. Yet, as I lay on my back, the book resting on my stomach, and my fingers tracking the lines more quickly than I thought they would, I knew that I had rediscovered my passion for reading literature myself. As much as I love my audiobooks, there is certainly something to be said for reading things yourself; every syllable is important, each character is wonderful, the story unfolds all by itself and it is fantastic, whimsical, exactly how I remembered it to be.
After rediscovering my love for independent reading, I decided that I’d been neglecting the creative part of my brain – I hadn’t written in so long, but nor had I read anything. So, as it would be a little too much to expect myself to get through piles and piles of books this summer, I logged in to my Audible account and hastily spent my unused credits on three books that I had wanted to read for a while: ‘The Scarlett Pimpernel’, ‘Sense and Sensibility’ and ‘The One Memory of Flora Banks’. If you’d like to hear more about what I thought about them, then let me know, and I’ll post a review of some sort. Anyway, the point is that that was about a week ago, and I’ve already finished two of them; the only one I have left to finish is ’Sense and Sensibility’, which I hope to fall in love with, although – and don’t disown me here – I thought that the only other novel of Austen’s I’ve read (‘Pride and Prejudice’) was rather dull. I’ve been enjoying my books, to say the least!
As always with these posts, I fear that I have been totally inarticulate, without a coherent word or cohesive paragraph to communicate with you. However, I hope that, somehow, you’re able to understand what I’m saying, and you perhaps even feel the same as I do – I’m sure there are millions of people who feel just as strongly about literature as I do! Have you read a particular book, poem or other piece of writing that has made you feel inspired, changed your views on a certain subject or has transported you to a completely new world? If so, let me know – I’m really interested, and could use some new recommendations.
Until next time,