[Editor’s Note: This post, by Matt Minski, is a direct response to a post written a few days ago by fellow TIAW contributor the skeptic. Here is the original post: Read This… If You Hate Reading.]
Being one who would classify himself as an avid reader, I felt it was necessary to write a response post to the Skeptic’s article that rallied anti-readers. This isn’t a post to bash the anti-reading points that Skeptic laid out, just one to illuminate the other side that was left in the dark.
I can understand how someone in this day and age would hate reading. First off it’s rather time consuming, it comes off as rather bland compared to the current array of entertainment formats, and being assigned various (sometimes shiteous) readings throughout our academic careers, surely doesn’t foster any love for the medium.
However. for whatever reason, for as long as I can remember, I have never been without a book in progress. I tend to derive more fulfillment out of text than I do any other medium. I was always puzzled when fellow classmates would ask, “What are you reading for?” I mean, “What are you reading?” seems more apt, but “What are you reading for?” I never quite understood the rationale there.
Now I don’t think that one person is any better for reading a book, I just think that books are an excellent means to provide additional insights to whatever you might be interested in. Not that a movie, TV show, or any other medium can’t give you knowledge. A book is just another looking glass in which to see information. It also has the potential to be a much more intimate experience, as with autobiographies, it doesn’t get more genuine than reading it straight from the author’s brain.
Sadly, I also happen to be one of those douches that will naively chime, “the book was much better than the movie” when the topic of an adaptation is at hand. But alas, I can’t bring myself to keep quiet. A book just provides so very much more than a movie can in most scenarios that I can’t help but wonder why more people don’t take part in it. A book doesn’t have amazing visuals or epic soundtracks but the sheer investment it takes is a reward all its own.
For instance, I started reading Harry Potter in 8th grade and I finished the series my junior year of college when the final book hit. That’s somewhere in the ballpark of eight years to follow a story. And it is that attachment, like a scrumptious tumor embedded deep at the stem of your imagination, seeping sweet, sweet nectar into your blood stream over the years, that keeps me coming back.
Another reason that I tend to prefer books more than other mediums is that the artist’s vision is usually not compromised as it is with movies. With movies being such a lucrative industry with millions of dollars being flown around, there are many people with power (read: money) that are trying to steer a movie into what they deem as success. With a book, you have the author’s untainted creation, straight from their brain. Take Alan Moore for example, his stories (Watchmen, V For Vendetta) are brilliant, but when in the hands of Hollywood you get a very watered down version of the original. I mean I loved both of those movies but the source material has a depth to it that very few movies can hope to reach. It’s like having a mighty steer toned down into beef flavored bouillon cubes.
It saddens me that books seem to be a dying medium (keep fighting the good fight Kindle!) but it also turns out to be a great treat when I meet those rare folks who share similar tastes. I can’t help but get all antsy in my pantsy when I meet someone that shares the same love for George R. R Martin’s epic “A Song of Ice and Fire” as I do.
I don’t look down on non-readers, I just think it’s a pity that people will section themselves off from a medium that has so much to offer because they are stifled from an early age by societies general disdain of reading for pleasure. Well, I suppose that isn’t fair to say, but goddamnit it’s a tragedy to miss out on some of the books out there.
Much in the same format as the Skeptic I feel it pertinent to leave off with a quote that has been circulating around my brain and one that I feel sums up my opinion on reading.
“To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.”
You can’t experience every awesome thing all the time in your short lifetime but books are just one of the tools along the way that can lend a hand in between.