I just finished a book today that I really enjoyed. It's one of those books that pulled my interest so much that as I got about halfway through it, I just had to finish it. So, after a leisurely breakfast at a local restaurant, I settled in on a cold Sunday afternoon, wrapped a blanket around myself, and just continued to read.
I was so absorbed in the characters and the situations they were in, I forgot it was cold and dreary outside. The book was "Hidden in Paris," by Corine Gantz. Granted, I love anything to do with Paris, but it's more than that. Ms Gantz is a wonderful writer and her characters were interesting and complex - and the way their lives intertwined with each other made it an engaging story. Her characters developed and grew, and the ending was satisfying without being too predictable. I enjoyed it and it was definitely one I had folded a few pages back on for quotes I like to write down in my journal later - which I always do upon finishing a book.
After I put it down, it made me think of someone I once worked with. She would quite often say she didn't read and that no one does anymore. She was actually proud of this. Perhaps people read differently than they did before (there are millions of Kindles and other electronic readers sold each year, as well as people reading on their computers and Smartphones), but people are still reading. We also still have many crowded bookstores for the people who still love paper books. I am generally around intelligent people of all ages who love to read, and when I have mentioned this comment people have generally been as puzzled by it as I was. I am also a writer, and any good writer should be reading to fuel their creative juices, as well as for inspiration.
But reading is more than that. Reading is a way to learn about other lifestyles, other cultures, other places. It is a way to continue learning, to be drawn into a story, to be in a different country, understand different backgrounds, and to be pulled out of your own life and into an entirely different one. I find it sad to not do that. Although I love movies, it isn't the same as the imagination and education you get by reading a good book. To never have that escape or intellectual stimulation closes you off to so much.
To each his or her own, of course, but I've been reading since I was a little kid, and I can't imagine not doing it at all. Even in the busy lives we all lead now, there are just too many things you miss out on by not pulling out a good book. Besides, it keeps your mind sharp and young. Why limit yourself that way?
This weekend I was in my favorite bookstore, Magers and Quinn, which was busy, as usual. One of the fun things about bookstores is not only checking out books, but observing the people who are in there. As I looked for my next book to read, I observed two teenagers going through the stacks and marveling at the titles. There was a lot of: "But, have you read this one? It's so awesome," and "I can't wait to get to that one."
I smiled to myself as I headed toward the counter with my next book, where the salesclerk assured me that I had made a great choice. Yes, people most definitely still read - old and young alike. And, although there might be some that don't, it's ignorant to say no one does. Because, no matter what the medium of choice is, there's just as much excitement and joy in it as there always has been.