The Thing About Books…

I just finished devoured Maximum Ride Forever today. I don’t even remember the last time I finished a book the day I started it, but there you have it. And thing is, it’s not even like it was an amazing mind-blowing book. There were definitely parts in the book when I knew the James Patterson was just pulling out every trick in the book like “Oh no, the Flock isn’t dead” and the classy “I’m pregnant” plot twist.

Regardless, I feel a bit better and accomplished. But still…how do I start this discussion?-

Thing is, I’ve been avoiding novels and Korean dramas. I get sucked into plots and waaay too invested into characters whenever I start stories. It gets to the point that I become moody and start questioning everything in real life in comparison to the book.

I actually tried to start a Korean drama, School 2015: Who Are You, but I stopped in part because I was busy with other things but also because I didn’t want to be dragged too far into it. I was still curious about the ending, so when the last episode came out, I just read a summary of it to see how the writers ended the story (which wasn’t satisfactory anyway so…).

It’s scary, isn’t it? The way books get you so engrossed into the plot and the characters. It’s immersive and when a character hurts, you hurt as well and sometimes even more than the character does because as a reader, you know more.

I got scared of this magical ability of books. And at about the same time, my interest for Asian history was sparked, and rather than reading novels, I read books about Korea, especially North Korea. I preferred these because the topics were real and readers could actually do something about it. But in novels, everything is fake, and you can’t do anything to help the hero/heroine because they don’t exist.

Besides Maximum Ride Forever, I also read Agatha Christie’s Murder on Orient Express and The Kite Runner. But with these books, I wasn’t as shaken by the stories. Mystery books never drastically affect me as much as novels do. The Kite Runner definitely shook me up, but at the same time sparked my curiosity about the Middle East. And for Maximum Ride Forever, I already knew the characters really well and knew beforehand that there was going to be some extraordinary plot gymnastics, so I wasn’t as shaken (though the thing with Fang’s feather made me almost cry).

So then…what is the purpose of novels?

Escapism? Because let’s admit it, it’s nice to slip into someone else’s life to avoid our own. But is escapism healthy?

I think my roommate, who’s an English major, answered my question the best. She told me with a slight grin, “You know, thing is Ashley, when people read my stories they think that they’re just there to entertain themselves. But the truth is, they’re giving me an invitation to mess with their minds and teach them a lesson. And that’s what’s awesome about being a writer.

It’s true, eh? Writing and all art in general has a lesson or a motive. There’s a reason why the author wanted to make us cry. And even if a work of art was done as a projection of emotions, even then there’s a story and a lesson to learn. This isn’t saying, though, that everything needs to be thoroughly analyzed and broken down. But at the same time, we should be aware of it. My high school teacher once told our class that everything has a lesson to it, we just have to look.

So, yes there is a reason for the novels. At the same time, I’m still hesitant to start a novel. Although I did say that we don’t have to always analyze everything, I do that now every time I pick up an interesting book. But I think it’s more of a defense mechanism, if that makes sense? I don’t want to get myself too involved into something if it’s not excellent.

When I do read novels, I want to be pushed intellectually to think differently. Frankenstein did that for me and even now, I refer back to what I learned in Frankenstein about the ‘sublime’. Or if I don’t get stretched mentally, I want to be blown away by amazing writing, like in The Night Circus. That writing was delicious. Although the plot wasn’t as brilliant as the writing was, still I remember that book simply because it’s words were beautiful.

I almost wish that I wasn’t as picky with books. I remember when I was in elementary and middle school; I devoured books daily, reading simply for the sake of reading. But then high school rolled around and I found myself reading mostly the books I was required to read. And by the time I hit high school, everyone was milking the dystopian world or vampire theme and I was getting bored with my choices. There was one book in particular that I predicted the entire plot but finished because I wanted to see if I was right. Then I started to lose faith in books.

I didn’t even consider ‘adult’ books or classics. I veered away from the rest of the YA books because they just got more racy/romantic with occasional sex (or close to it) scenes. But after reading Frankenstein, my expectation rose with books. And here I am now, cautious to read books.

Because once you start, you can’t stop.

///

If anyone has a good book to recommend, please leave it in the comment section! I’d much rather read a book that someone recommends to me, ahaha.

As always, thanks for reading!

~ajc

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2 thoughts on “The Thing About Books…

  1. Like what Erin said about books, ..writing messing readers minds. Erin was so right, ..and it’s not just books, but the music, movies, talks and everything else your mind comes in contact with. Yes, you are being thrown ideas of others right on to your head. Most of us are quite impacted by those external ideas. When those ideas root in your mind and grow, they become who you are. We see great examples, both good and bad. So, when you read, listen or view, the creators of these mediums are battling for a space in your head. ..” I have kept thy word in my heart that I might not sin against thee, …”

  2. Pingback: Epiphany: Reading | Wings, Ashes, and Lights

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