Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. The meme was originally the brainchild of The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Ten Things I Love About Reading.
Ten Things I Love About Reading
(1) Getting lost in the story. I love losing myself in a story for an hour or two (or five.) It’s like a mini-vacation from the cares and stresses of everyday life.
(2) It refreshes my spirit... which is directly related to the previous point.
(3) Books feed my imagination. When I say “lost in a story,” I mean it. I am immersed. When I read a book, when I truly lose myself in it, I become almost unaware of the words. (Almost.) The story plays in my head like a movie, but I am in it; the sights and sounds occur all around me. Sometimes I am the main character, sometimes merely an observer, but an observer who is there. It’s very different from seeing a movie, where it’s all happening on a screen in front of me.
Books feed my imagination in other ways, too, providing fodder for daydreams and dreams and even fanfic, building blocks for making up my own stories (whether or not I write them down.)
(4) I get to live a million experiences that I would never encounter (or even seek out) in real life. From climbing a mountain peak to attending a magical boarding school to waltzing at a ball, from swimming with selkies to solving mysteries to taming a falcon, books let me experience events and feelings that go well beyond my everyday life.
(5) Books take me to different worlds… and different times. Middle Earth, Narnia, Hogwarts, Pern, Valdemar, Tortall, Tau Ceti, the Moon, Deneb, the entire galaxy… but also medieval and Renaissance Europe; Regency England and Jacobite Scotland; the 19th-century American West; 1920s India, Japan, Palestine, and Morocco—a myriad of times and places (real and imagined) that I will never see with my eyes, but that become real to me through books. Because I value this, I have a high regard for really good worldbuilding.
(6) Learning new things. I am constantly learning from the books I read: not just facts, but also differing opinions and worldviews. Thanks to the books I have read, I have a better understanding not only of the world and universe I live in, but of the human beings around me. Which brings me to…
(7) Experiencing the world from someone else’s point of view. Whether a book is first person or third-person limited, whether the person is real or imagined or even nonhuman, any book that lets me experience someone else’s thoughts and feelings vicariously broadens my own experience, and thus opens my mind and heart. I am a more compassionate, more empathetic, more accepting person because I’m better able to put myself in someone else’s shoes, to imagine what they are thinking and feeling. Because I’ve experienced so many different characters’ humanity through books, it’s much easier to see the humanity of real individuals, regardless of the apparent differences between us.
(8) Words. I love words. I love learning new words. I love how synonyms convey fine shades of meaning, so that hungry is different from peckish or famished or ravenous. I love how beautiful prose flows or sings or shouts. I love good writing, and I’m in awe of great writing. Books immerse me in words. I know I said that when I’m immersed in the story, the words almost disappear… but if I slow down, and stop to appreciate the writing and the writer’s choice of words, that is a different way of enjoying the book. And I owe my extensive vocabulary to decades of reading, especially in my childhood and teens.
(9) Hope and optimism. I am, by nature, somewhat anxious and a bit of a worrier. Oddly enough, I’m also something of an optimist; while my brain is capable of whipping up any number of worst-case scenarios in any given situation, my heart always wants to believe that things will work out. I gravitate toward books with happy or at least optimistic endings, because they help restore and/or reinforce my hope and optimism—my belief that everything will be all right in the end.
(10) The physical package. So far, I’ve focused on what’s inside the covers: the story, the characters, the worldbuilding, the information. And from that point of view, it doesn’t matter to me whether a book is physical or electronic. But I love the look and feel and smell of physical books, both in the hand and on the shelf. I love leatherbound books with gilt decorations. I love beautiful new covers and vintage books. I love gorgeous or playful picture books, and elegantly slipcovered or gilt-edged volumes. I love the comforting familiarity of a shelf books I have read and loved many times, and the exciting possibilities of a TBR shelf. I love how a good cover interprets the book and tells you something of what’s inside. And I love seeing an author’s signature on the title page, or an inscription from a loved one on the inside cover. I love physical books so much that I have bookcases scattered throughout the house, in nearly every room, and more in the basement… and I’m still running out of space.