A bibliophile is the first recorded word, in print, to define a book lover and was published in 1824, according to the Oxford English Dictionary; it’s one of my favourite words and one that I cannot help but fall in love with as a bookworm myself, as books have taken me on so many adventures.
I have always found a book comforting, something I can dive into on a bus or curl up on an armchair with it; and there are times when I could lose myself in a bookstore and disappear into new worlds entirely.
To me, books have always been able to offer me a kind of solace that differs from plugging in my headphones and drowning the world away with music; yet it’s equally something I find hard to describe.
It’s almost as if I am holding and journeying through a daydream that isn’t of my making. I still have a sense of what’s happening around me, yet it’s softened a little, more like background noise when a book is in my hand.
I could be snapped out of a daydream, brought out of the stream of words in front of me, and back to sitting next to someone on a bus, or waiting for a friend to join me for coffee in a café.
A book is like a daydream and is simply so because I could not be more content than sitting in my cosy armchair, a mug of tea in hand and a book on my lap. It is a welcomed distraction from the stresses of day to day life.
Another way to describe a book is like an adventure into the unknown, where you can dive into the world of experiments (such as The Rosie Project or We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves) to fairytales from distant lands (such as The Fairytales of the Brothers Grimm or The Language of Thorns) or even to modern romances (such as All the Bright Places or It Only Happens in the Movies).
Books are wonderful in the adventures and stories they offer at a moments notice. I could be facing my fears or waiting for a call from Death-Cast (both examples being A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares and They Both Die at the End) and then disappear back to work, or cooking dinner or talking to friends and family. A book is an adventure that waits for you.
This is not the only reason I love books, perhaps it’s down to what a relative told me once, that a book is a story from a world we have yet to discover; or perhaps, it’s more that a book has been more forgiving in my teenage years, than I was to myself, as it accepted me with no judgement, just simple words – a distraction from the world outside; an adventure within a daydream.
Yet I think, for me, it is what you invest in a book that you shall reap; it’s almost like planting a seed and waiting for it to grow.
I love reading a book, not just for the story and the adventure, the where of which it will take me.
No, I love reading a book for those moments you get where you laugh, and cry with the characters; where you sigh in frustration because you know how it’s going to end long before the protagonist does; or you bounce your leg with impatience, waiting for the penny to finally drop.
Those moments when you just have to get up and make a tea (and put some much needed distance between you and that book) because something happened that you weren’t fully onboard with; need I mention the toe-curling cringeworthy moments, where you kind of wish a character hadn’t done or said what they did?
I find them so wonderful and inspirational as a writer. It’s not just that clever technique you want to emulate in your own work; but it’s inspiring because of that connection you have with story or that character in particular.
There’s just something, maybe you cannot quite put your finger on it, that makes you want to reach for a notebook and a pen. Start writing and see where it takes, what daydream it will inspire you to create.
It makes that initial spark of curiosity in a bookshop, or from a recommendation by someone close, worth it.
All that time, where you cannot put the book down because you have to know what’s on the next page or next chapter. I couldn’t count the times on my hand of the sleepless nights I’ve had where I’ve just had to finish a book.
I could list all of the wonders I have found over the years about books, and why I adore them so much. I would be here for a while, but I think I shall end on my growing list of why I cannot resist a good book, with the little reasons that I enjoy reading.
That new book smell; wondering around bookstores and libraries; reading countless blurbs for the that catches your eye; reading in comfort; new bookmarks; bookshelves (and bedside tables) overflowing with books; and those ‘oh I wish I’d written that’ moments; even the little flurries of inspiration for your own work.
To quote George R.R. Martin, “I have lived a thousand lives and I’ve loved a thousand loves. I’ve walked on distant worlds and seen the end of time. Because I read”.
I couldn’t agree with him more.