For the Love of Literature

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.
– George R. R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

Lately I’ve been craving adventure. Something that awakens my soul and stirs me down to my core. I’ll even settle for a noticeable change. Perhaps a lesson in skydiving. Maybe try out some bareback horse riding. A cooking or photography class here and there. I’m not asking for too much, am I? I’m not a freakin’ wind-up toy – I can’t just go on with my daily tasks and not run the risk of feeling a slight sense of boredom from time to time.

But life does not always leave time for adventures. At least mine presently doesn’t (it will though, don’t you worry). I mean, I don’t have plans to steal the Statue of Liberty or better yet, the moon, but still. I’m alive, but I want to actually feel alive. Know what I mean?

So while these next few months are not the prime time for skydiving, and apart from the fact that I sadly don’t wake up to a pasture full of horses every morning, I have to find a workaround to satiate my yearning for more.

You feel me, Ariel?

You feel me, Ariel?

And it hit me. The answer was so simple. I could adventure my way through a good book. Lord knows I have no shortage of them. And although I am quite proud of my mini library, I love my books for more than just the bragging rights they bring me. My collection of literature has also brought me undisputed truths, it has taught me some life lessons that don’t involve parental lectures, and it has opened my eyes to new worlds, new people, and new journeys that are sorely lacking in this “reality.” Speaking of which, can someone tell me where I put my acceptance letter to Hogwart’s?

I grew up in a household filled with books rather than television. Up until the age of 14, household rules stated that my sister and I were to watch no more than 45 minutes of television each day (and up to two hours over the span of the weekend). My destiny to bookworm-dom was unfolding. And I have embraced it wholeheartedly. C.S. Lewis hit the nail on the head when he said, “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” But with my thirst for adventure, I had to start somewhere. So I decided to choose amongst my politics collection. And as for long enough, well, I’m sure that Bill Clinton’s autobiography My Life would make Lewis proud. After all, the book does weigh in at 1,056 pages. Then again, Bill had plenty to write about. From its very first pages, Clinton’s work let me find my own kind of escapade. I was dropped into Arkansas, and the pages turned to find stories of a charging ram, a BB gun standoff, and a description of events from a man that grew up during a time in our nation’s history that has long fascinated me (i.e. the ways in which Martin Luther King Jr. and JFK shaped society).

Call me old-fashioned, but I am a true fan of books. Maybe one of the biggest out there. Sure, I have my guilty pleasures where I must find out what’s going on with the Kardashians, but my first love always draws me back to literature. When I was a kid, I used to always fill out the same answer to those stupid questionnaires teachers gave the class. You know, the ones that sought to “get to know you” a little better. The ones that have questions like, “What’s your favorite color?,” “What’s your favorite animal?,” and “What’s your favorite hobby?” Really digging deep there, guys. But my response to the hobby question was always reading. And to this day, I still dream of having my own library. Not the kind that has herpes and cocaine-laced books, but the kind that has a swing-around ladder and shelves upon shelves of novels from every corner of the globe, spanning every kind of genre imaginable (what the hell, we can throw some erotica in there, too). Essentially, I want the library that the Beast gives to Belle. So if anyone out there is feeling generous, I will repay you handsomely. In cash, cigarettes, sexual favors. I am a woman of many means and talents, after all.

Ron Weasley

And I truly think so many people miss out because they don’t take the time to read. For those of you that don’t, no judgment on my part, but I will just say that you are missing out on some of the world’s most fascinating characters. Who can’t help but be charmed by Jay Gatsby? I’m asking those of you that have actually read Fitzgerald’s work, not those of you that are lovestruck by Leonardo DiCaprio. Ironically, I happen to fit into both groups here.

I could just spread him on a cracker.

I could just spread him on a cracker.

And why wouldn’t you want to take a rafting ride with Huck Finn? Or take some law school notes from Atticus Finch? Say a prayer for Owen Meany? And for the romantics out there, don’t you want to follow the story of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler? And if you don’t, well, frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. And if Scarlett and Rhett aren’t quite your cup of tea, may I suggest you find your romantic heroes amongst one Fitzwilliam Darcy and one Elizabeth Bennet? If it’s one thing I’ve learned from all of this reading, it’s that you can’t really go wrong with Jane Austen.

And the beauty behind a great piece of literature is that you can return to it over and over again. Ask anyone whose hobby list begins with reading, and they will easily tell you that it is never tiring to reread your favorite book. Now ask that again of those that happen to be fonder of the television? I completely understand the premise behind classic movies (those, I can agree are similar to the classic novels), but how many people are rewatching episodes of the latest reality TV show? Which – sadly – happens to be one of the most popular genres of television among my generation. I can tell you one thing, I watch my Keeping Up with the Kardashians once and then it’s off my DVR, but I can’t remember the last time I looked at my collection of books and thought, “Well, it’s time to get rid of a few of you.” It just doesn’t happen.

So if you’re like me and in need of an adventure, a change, a thrill, a twist, or just want to tap into that long forgotten thing called your imagination, then the answer lies in literature. Or in jumping out of an airplane.

Skydiving Cat

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