Books were my refuge, my window to the world.
Reading books helped me answer questions I had. More importantly, books helped me ask bigger, deeper, more challenging questions. Books painted pictures of people and places I hadn’t seen. Books took me to forests and castles, gave me an audience with queens, scientists and ogres. Books let me dance with the devil and float with the angels. Books made me think about who I want to be and what self I wanted to show to the world.
Reading books shaped my perspectives perhaps more than anything else ever has.
Something has happened. I’ve stopped reading books.
I spend time doing other things. Some of the time I am still reading, but reading shorter pieces. Reading has largely become functional and transactional rather than inspirational and magical. Even worse, most of the time I am listening to football podcasts or watching shitty TV. I am often cooking (don’t get me wrong, I love cooking). I have bullshit life admin.
No other media has given me the same journey as reading books ever did.
This year I want to read books again. I want to read fiction. I want to read about science I know nothing about. I want to read about art and artists. I want those windows into worlds again, that peek into unexplored lives.
I know some of what I want will never come back. Much of that sense of wonder as a child was driven by newness. But even a little glimmer, a tiny shred of something would be invaluable.
As I reflect, I wonder if my absolute love for reading as a child satisfied my itch for adventure so much that I forgot to have real-life adventures… How could actually doing anything compare to living the journeys of the characters of Roald Dahl, and all in the warmth and safety of home? Reading gave me a vivid imagination and broad perception of humanity, but it did not give me experience of life. You can describe a waterfall in words, but it is nothing compared to seeing one with your own eyes.
Perhaps this drove my desire to travel, and to do work that took me to meet different people in different places.
Great books are written by those that read a lot. Surely the best books are written by those that have read a lot but have also lived at least as much.