In today’s society, everything is often so fast paced that we forget to stop and really enjoy things. One of the things that I have been trying to do, especially recently, is force myself to get back into reading books. Forcing may be a strong word because I do enjoy reading, but it is easy to fall into a routine where watching television seems more enjoyable. Today, I’m reflecting on why reading is important in a society that promotes conveying messages in the shortest spot possible.
I believe that the experience of reading a book is completely different than any other. With concepts like Netflix and recorded television, few want to go read a book instead of binge watching a new show that they can watch without the interruption of commercials. However, if one thought about how intrigued they are by a single episode of say,Grey’s Anatomy, imagine what it would be like to read those episodes in a book.
First of all, it would take an entire book to develop all of those characters from the first half a dozen episodes which most likely wouldn’t be all that interesting. Imagine someone describing Derek Shepard and having the ability to develop your own “McDreamy”. Imagine how fast you would turn the pages wondering when everything would come together for Meredith and Derek.
Reading is immersive in the most unique kind of way. I believe a story is never finished until it is read and interpreted by the reader. Sure, the author may describe a character in great detail, but the reader is the one that develops their vision of that character in their mind. Derek Shepard may be interpreted to look like Patrick Dempsey to some, but he may resonate as someone different to others. Either way, the hope is that whatever Derek Shepard looks like, he’s dreamy in your mind and that means different things to different people.
Similarly, one may experience all of the emotions in one episode of Grey’s (by emotions I mean crying at least twice) simply by watching the show. I believe that reading a book has the ability to literally make one feel like they are standing in the operating room between Meredith Grey and Miranda Bailey. Instead of imagining what that is like, we are told exactly what it is like. There is no imagination. We are told where every nurse and doctor are standing, along with every computer screen and scalpel.
I admit Grey’s may not have been my best example because let’s be honest, the show has 317 episodes, so developing those into books would be asking a lot of my attention span. However, my point is not that observing television is bad, rather it is that reading allows for our minds to be more creative and imaginative. I think the concept of imagination fades away with childhood, maybe even too soon, however that does not mean we should lose our sense of creativity.
Working in an industry that is meant to convey messages in the most effective way possible, quick or colorful, visual or comical, it is easy to train your mind to only give consideration to the short messages that tell you exactly how something works. It is important to remember to develop our own opinions and to be creative and imaginative. Reading allows us to do that while feeling present in the story. Sometimes I don’t like to be told how something works, I want to decide for myself.
So read a book or long article for a change. Understand something a little bit better. Go beyond the bare minimum. Explore imagination a bit more, you may be surprised what you find!