Why, when there are endless forms of entertainment available to us, do so many of us still find reading such a joy? There are countless films to watch, available almost anywhere, on any device, with their impressive special effects and high budgets; and then there are computer games, with the ability to allow you to immerse yourself into their complex worlds using just your fingers and thumbs.
I think that a lot of it has to do with choice. That’s right. Choice. You see, when you pick up a dvd or a game – and I’m not slating either of these forms of entertainment, I actually quite like them both – you are exposed to an idea that is entirely someone else’s; the way everything looks, the way the characters speak and interact, the way the facial expressions are acted, the tone in which lines are delivered and the actual way, down to the very last detail, that the brown carpet in the protagonist’s house really looks.
Within the novel, if you’re told that a brown carpet is on the floor, then your memory will trawl through all of the brown carpets that it can remember and come out with something approximating those. It makes reading personal, so no matter where you go within the novel, it is your world that is influencing the look and feel of all of the settings and characters. It makes it more about you and your experiences.
This is why novels are so much more appealing to some people, or at least are more often able to delve deeper into your soul; it puts you right in the heart of the story, with the things you know and have lived around taking centre stage. Sometimes the main characters in the ones I read even look like me!
Or is that just the ones I write?