Blog of Mass Distraction

Sunday, August 29, 2004

I have few friends that I would consider avid readers. I'm not sure I could consider myself an avid reader. While I, and my dad and my brother, are news freaks, reading the news doesn't give you the same experience as reading an interesting book.
I definitely used to be an avid reader. In my younger years I would read a lot of books, and I had a penchant for reading big, thick, or difficult books. This gave me a somewhat limited exposure, but I did get the chance to read some classics and interesting non-fiction.
Recently I've picked up my old habit and have tried to become an avid reader once again. And I certainly have more than enough material to satisfy me (especially since I no longer have my childish limitation). There's so much material that I have generally found myself in the middle of 3 or 4 books at a time. I'm certainly not a speed reader or anything, I usually pick up one book, start reading it and when another catches my attention (and I happen to get access to a copy) I'll start reading it as well. I wouldn't really mind this except a couple of the books I read tend to be harder to put down for a while and pick up again easily after reading something else.
In spite of this I've certainly enjoyed many of the books I've read in the past couple of years. And because I've enjoyed them so much, I've tried to get others in my family and among my friends to read them as well. I'm usually not very successful.
And yet, with the rampant (and, in my opinion, disgraceful) success of reality television, I think if people just gave books a chance they'd enjoy them a great deal. Many people lack focus or direction and use television, among other things, as a means of escaping reality. A good novel is far more successful at drawing you into an alternate existence than any reality tv or sitcom could ever be. Furthermore, you can actually draw some useful benefit from reading, stimulating your mind rather than rotting it with mindless entertainment.
I've just started another book, some not-so-contemporary fiction (late '80s) and I realized I was in the middle of another book which I've mislaid somewhere at home. The other book was also very interesting, non-fiction and very contemporary. My favourite books, however, have always been those that craft a detailed and enthralling world that draws you in as you watch the characters and story develop. My favourite fiction story is the Lord of the Rings, and while that's been true most of my life, I may yet find a story that builds a world I will enjoy visiting more. I have read Asimov's Empire and Robot stories, and while very captivating, I definitely like Tolkien's tale better. But I'll see how I like the book I'm reading now; it, like others I've read recently, is very philosophical. And that's something I find gives great meaning and ultimately great satisfaction to a story.


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