Lately, I’ve been thinking about what it is that makes reading so enriching for me. Of all the things I do for fun, I find reading to be the most rewarding of all. I think there are a few reasons for this. First off, it’s tied to my work. As a writer, I am constantly examining how others write, the language they use and what makes a piece work. Secondly, I love immersing myself in a good book. For me, few things feel as refreshing and rewarding as being able to completely lose myself in what I’m reading. What I feel is most rewarding about reading is the intimacy of it.
I find that while I am reading a story, not only am I able to view the world through someone else’s eyes, I am personally engaged in their world because I am reenacting their story in my mind, with my own voice. Aside from our earliest caregivers, whose voice can we count on more than our own? A well written book can be as persuasive as my own consciousness. Perhaps this is why I often find myself feeling so deeply connected to characters. It feels as if they are real because I am experiencing them in a way that only I can. No one else’s voice can sound as native to my brain as my own.
As George R.R. Martin so beautifully wrote “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”
This quote has always resonated with me because it shows how deeply connected reading is to our empathetic qualities. Through reading, we can explore other worlds and meet new people without the insecurities of social expectations. This isn’t to say you should hide in your bedroom with an endless supply of books shipping directly to your house from Amazon each week, but knowing your books will always be there to greet you after a long day, without judgement or expectation, is comforting.
Do you feel that reading is an intimate act? Do you feel deeply connected to the characters you read?