By Ethan Harmon
When was the last time you saw someone actually reading a book? Perhaps you saw a man flipping through the pages of a novella as he sat in a Starbucks, sipping a milkshake – er, Frappuccino. Maybe you caught a glimpse of a woman thumbing through a novel at a local bookstore. When was the last time you read a book? When was the last time you really sat down, read the lines, and immersed yourself into the world of literature? It seems that books are not what they used to be, a relic of the past replaced by television, movies, and games. It is more difficult to catch someone actually reading a book (or for some, remembering the last time they opened one up), than it is to see someone watching a TV show.
Now, this is not to say that television, games, and movies are a bad thing. Far from it. We all enjoy our different forms of entertainment and escapism. But books never seem to make it into the mix, and therein lies the problem. Books are a great form of expression, using only the written word to create worlds, form interesting characters, shape lives, and push our imaginations beyond anything than we witness on the small screens in our living rooms. Books are the – no pun intended – literal extension of the author; the very essence of themselves poured into the pages that we read.
Perhaps, this is a little too poetic, but isn’t that also the point? What inspired these words to so justly encapsulate the feelings and emotions that were experienced by literature? The books themselves live, through us, and give us inspiration. The dystopian cityscapes of Brave New World are a shocking reflection of society, seen through the eyes of Aldus Huxley, which forces us to examine our world and correlate the fictitious underbelly of the future with our own modern world. To Kill a Mockingbird, a period piece that looks deeper into what makes us human and why it matters to stand up for what is right, gives us a hard topic and allows us to analyze it for its message; one that is still relevant today.
Books invoke our imaginations and trigger our minds. Yes, the author is the one writing the story, but the setting, the characters, the actions, the moods, the tones; they are all created within our minds. And in our minds, we can see a world that wasn’t there before, one that we can relish within, analyze, examine, enjoy. Books can show us a truth about ourselves, our relationships, and our world that may have been hidden or forgotten to us. Books can show us a new way to see ourselves and our world, if we pick them up and read their words.
“Magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.” – Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury