Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Why I Love Books

If I say that I spend a lot of my time staring at squiggly shapes and trying to discern complex meaning from them, you might advise me to seek help from a mental health professional. If I say that I spend a lot of my time reading, you might think I sound kind of intellectual. See how much words matter?

I guess I'm a little biased toward books. As a writer, obviously I read. Or at least it should be obvious. I have actually heard more than one aspiring writer ask whether reading was really that necessary. The question makes no sense to me. Why would someone want to write but not want to read? Without readers, writers are just people making weird squiggly lines. And reading really is the best way—perhaps the only way—to learn to write well. Sure, lists of tips and rules can be helpful, but a writer needs to devour stories until their structures become internalized.

So I read because I write, but that's not the only reason. I enjoy reading. I also like movies, television, podcasts, and computer games, but they each offer something different. New forms of media should add to our options, not take away from them.

Reading is important, too, even when it is just a bunch of stuff someone made up. More than any other form of storytelling, books allow people to enter another person's mind. I'll only ever be me, but thanks to books, I can at least begin to understand what it might feel like to be from a different culture, to have been born in a different era, to face overwhelming obstacles, and to ride dragons.

©Trent Black

Laurel Gale lives in the desert with her husband and a band of furry monsters that might actually be ferrets. She enjoys reading novels, playing board games, and learning about everything from history to science to grammar. Her debut middle grade novel, Dead Boy, comes out September 29, 2015, from Random House/Crown Books for Young Readers. 

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