Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.
Two years ago, I began riding the train to work. Granted there were buses I could have taken previously but those involved transferring and other interruptions and, this new train route boasted a full uninterrupted 40 minutes ride each way while dropping me off and picking me up in front of my place of employment. I couldn't resist for very good reasons. One was to save on parking costs downtown, of course and my job pays for a significant portion of my train pass so it was a good budgetary move. But the real reason was, the train ride to and from work would allow me to luxuriate for 80 minutes in my favorite pastime - reading books.
There you have it. I am a book junkie. I guess there are worse things to be addicted to. During extreme episodes of jonesing, I've been known to sneak into the bathroom stalls at work just to get in two or three pages of my latest paperback. In fact, if the book was good enough, I'd put off fixing dinner, doing laundry, walking the dogs and whatnot, just to delve fully into my reading. What is it inside of me that is so twisted that I would prefer living vicariously through the lives of the characters in my books, all the while reaping the benefits of their happiness, crying with them in their twisted sorrows, feeling their pain, frustration, terror and injustices?
I've been reading books since literally, the day I could read. Wintry, snowy nights of my childhood were spent with all members of the family curled up comfortably in every nook and cranny of the house, each of us lost in our stories, oblivious to the world around us. A lot of the books I read are recommended by friends or family but when I buy a book or pick one out at the library, I read the back cover. If that along with the title speaks to me, I go on to read the first couple sentences of the first chapter. If that grabs me, I'm hooked and the book is mine. I'll read anything but I prefer rich novels that span generations or book series whose central plot defies accepted norms. Then there's the 'why did i just read that' books. Tales that were unexpectedly or otherwise twisted, leaving a foul imprint on my mind, making me want to sleep with the light on, or constantly look over my shoulder. No matter what work of fiction I am furiously devouring, I dread beginning the last chapters. Anxiety of having to forever say goodbye to the characters I have grown so close to is enough to make me slow down and to savor each and every last word.
The thrill of finishing a story is undeniable, in a sense, too, because I never ever put a read book back on the shelf. For it is pure pleasure to be the purveyor of stories, passing on the books I have consumed to others who are awaiting to immerse themselves into the narrative time warp. I have sisters, a mother and couple of friends that wait patiently for me to announce I have another book for them. And do I ever. Each week I finish a book. Each week I get a call from a sister asking for the next book. Each week I make special arrangements to get that book to her. The books are passed on and on, only rarely returning to me. And that's the way it should be. No house should have a big library, for those books are just sitting on shelves collecting dust and bugs. But every house should have an open book that is read every single night, whether alone or to another. Books give us occasion to escape, just for a while. A chance to live in someone else's shoes without the repercussions of their actions. An opportunity challenge our convictions and to add insightful chapters to our world view.
Now, I've really got to go now because even though I love writing, I love reading more and I've got to get back to my novel, the characters are missing me!