Reading – Pure Escapism

Hey everyone!! It’s wonderful to be back posting on A.P Writing, I hope you’re all feeling great and enjoying life. This next post as the title suggests delves into the importance of reading, I’ll ask some key questions and try to give you some insight into my mind set. Now, as Ned Stark would say, WINTER IS COMING, the days are growing shorter and before long our days will be nothing but dark mornings and gloomy evenings. Ah, but is this not the best time of year to read? Just imagine the scene, you’ve had a stressful, tiring day at work, you get home, brew yourself a cup of tea and sit in that cosy little chair with a good book, total bliss ehh? Of course if only it was that easy, I’m sure like me many of you would love this to be their daily routine but life will inadvertently get in the way. Perhaps some of what I’ll discuss below will encourage you to squeeze that half an hour into your evening, to read a good book while nightfall creeps in.

So, firstly we should think about just what it is we get from reading, for me there’s a hundred different answers I could give, and the amazing thing is that mine will probably be different to yours, reading like writing is a unique experience. With that in mind I’ve compiled a list of questions we can talk through. To begin with why not look at what got us into reading, we all had to start somewhere. I personally took up reading as a child, I’ll admit looking back now I wish I’d done a lot more, my earliest memories of books that I really truly enjoyed were Anthony Horowitz Young Bond collection. I continued to read on and off through my early teens but found a real passion for reading and writing when I hit my twenties. I was utterly taken away by the escapism and for the first time in my life remember thinking this is what I want to do, I’ve got so many stories to tell. Was it the same for you? Have a think back to when you started reading, we’ve all probably been doing it much longer than first thought.

Now, I read somewhere that 10,000 hours of practicing something makes you an expert, does this make us all experts in the art of reading? We spend hours at a time engaged within a book, how many hours is that over the last however many years you’ve been reading? The point I’m trying to make is that we keep coming back, why is that? As stated earlier I gain so much from the escapism a book brings, getting to be someone else, achieve things we never could in real life, that’s liberating. Whether you see yourself as rouged Jack Reacher, solving crimes and helping the innocent or enjoy having the ultimate power at the hands of a Targaryen and their dragons, there can be no denying sometimes it feels good to forget our own lives in favour of our fictional hero’s. I also love how reading engages the brain, we’re constantly thinking about different scenarios and how a scene might play out, slyly amused when the author fools us again.

In my opinion we learn something new every time we finish a book, so ask yourself while we’re here, what knowledge do you keep? Yes that’s right, believe it or not there’s more to finishing a book than just the sense of satisfaction you feel, think of the writers style and what you liked about it. Think of all the words you read and didn’t understand, I’m not ashamed to admit that sometimes when reading I come across words I’ve not seen before. So what do I do? Well I write them down of course, research what they mean and then use them when applicable in my own writing, if I wasn’t reading just think how many fresh, exciting words would go unread. Without knowing it we’re always soaking up little snippets here and there when reading, especially from our favourite authors.

I’m guessing some of you are following this post thinking ‘wow, Adam really does look at all this reading stuff through rose tinted glasses doesn’t he?’. If you are then well done, I salute you. At times reading can get boring and frustrating, but I’d argue that it’s perhaps what you’re reading and not reading itself that’s the issue. On the very rare occasion I’ve begrudgingly admitted that giving up is the only solution, although I can count on one hand how many books I’ve started and not finished. If a piece of writing does nothing but irritate you, if the story you’ve started makes you want to launch the book rather than read it then what are we gaining from that experience? Absolutely nothing. Move on and find something that’ll engage your brain, you can thank yourself later.

What specific part of a story holds your interest most? There’s probably another cascade of answers for this question but we’ll discuss nonetheless. Lets start with plot, part of what grabs us from the get go is wondering what happens next. Is the main protagonist heading for trouble? Well I guess we’ll just have to read on and find out what happens, eventually wondering to ourselves ‘where did all those hours go?’. But in all seriousness we need to have a strong plot, the suspense adds another dimension. So what about characters? This is what grips me most, If an authors invested time developing a character then we really begin to care about them. Look at Mr Harry Potter, JK Rowling created such a relatable individual that half the world waited on baited breath for what came next. Add to that the fact we got to see those characters grow up over many years, often mirroring our own life experiences you can see why characters become such a draw. Another personal favourite of mine is the landscapes we experience when reading. Lets be honest here, I’m never going to visit Mars but through Andy Weirs The Martian I feel in some ways I already have. This was a book I happened to come across when scrolling through my kindle and was quite glad I did. Tad Williams Osten Ard is another prime example of a landscape within a book series that we can get totally lost in. I’ll close this question with another, how many points of view do you get to experience in daily life? For most of us it’s just our own, now think how many you get to experience when reading a story.

It feels like we’ve been discussing for some time now, there’s so much to cover and probably a lot more I’ve missed but I’m going to finish with one final question, multiple genres or just one? Personally I’m a big advocate of reading far and wide, I see reading as escapism but also as a tool to improve my craft as a writer. However the important thing is that we’re reading, if one particular genre is the only one keeping you interested then stick to it. A recurring theme throughout this piece has been how we’re all unique and respond differently to different things, whatever it is that keeps you reading, do it because reading is the key to so much more.

As always thanks for taking the time to read through my post folks, I really do appreciate it. Please feel free to leave a comment, I’ll see you all real soon.

Adam

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