So what? I read books, bro… Get off my Dickens.
At some point, reading books became something only geeks did. Before Netflix, Youtube, and Facebook, (about 100 years ago, I suppose), everyone read books. Well-read men were looked upon as young, dashing sages. Writers were mysterious men with typewriters, scribbling romantic lines in yellowed notebooks. What happened to that freakin’ awesome stereotype?
When did books become such a symbol of lameness? Books can be pretty awesome. If reading or writing isn’t cool, then maybe you’ve just not been reading the right books.
I fully blame the public education system, which fortunately is the scapegoat for most of the blame for anything that I find wicked. English teachers assign, sometimes, the worst books. Children as young as ten are FORCED to read particular books, which gives them a bad perspective on books over all. Rather than be an intellectual escape, books represent horrible slave work. They become prisons of multi-layered syntax and qausi-universal themes, all of which you may never fully understand.
There’s been a lot of talk recently about the lack of boys reading, which I suppose is normal. If we are forced at a young age to read Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, we might swear off books altogether. Reading has become a pastime for nerds and pansies. Very few books transcend this stigma, deemed worthy of every child reading: such as Harry Potter perhaps, or The Bible. But crack the spine of anything else, and you’re a nerd.
Stories, though, are more important than we give them credit. Some books are not simply good just because of an awesome premise. Rather, books are a medium through which people can share their stories. Even if the story is fiction, the ideas can be the understood, the emotion truly felt. Themes hardly matter in a book if you don’t feel something physically. The story needs to affect you on a very visceral level, make your stomach churn or your head feel light. We need to realize that reading isn’t merely intellectual, but also a sensational experience.
We must find books to share with people that will touch them. Especially kids.
In books, they give away free passports to every country on Earth. In books, they sell train tickets to places that don’t even exist. In books, heroes triumph on a daily basis. In books, you always get the girl. In books, you learn something about yourself you might not have otherwise figured out.
Reading is seemingly intimate. A solitary experience somewhere. But by reading a book you are affected in the same way that so many others reading the same book felt. Maybe you can’t feel exactly the same, being a different person. But you share the experience with people all around the world.
So, yes, I read.
I want to use that medium to change people’s minds and to make them laugh. To make them scratch their heads and to make them crap their pants. To make them hoot and holler and to make them put the book down on their lap and look quietly through a train window in deep thought.
Stories are the spirit through which all humans can strive to understand each other.