To Read or Not to Read? That Is the Question

By: Deborah Epperson

Is reading books, especially fiction books, a waste of time? This question seems to be popping up repeatedly lately. As writers and poets of fiction and nonfiction, I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say we are all yelling a resounding, “NO!”

     Many of those arguing for abandoning book reading explain that with social media for  communications, and television, movies, and video games for excitement and entertainment, the hours spent reading a book are hours wasted in a sedentary, anti-social, time consuming activity. “Get a life,” one non-reader wrote, “Stop wasting time reading someone else’s figment of imagination.” Another commentor compared reading a book to living in the Stone Age. And many said instead of wasting a day reading a book, they’d wait for the movie to come out.

      Television, movies, and any visual media can entertain us and often move our emotions. But in viewing these media, I find much of the work is done for me. In a book, the author paints a picture of a place or character with words, but then readers must put those word-pieces together and come up with their own vision and their own understanding of who a character is and what he/she represents in the story. Our discernments about each character are unique to us because they come from a merger of our personal beliefs, experiences, fears, and dreams that create our personal truths.

      To demonstrate the difference between written words and visual media, let’s pretend two people each give you a 1000-piece puzzle. One puzzle is completely finished for you, but the other puzzle is still in 1000 pieces and you have to look at each piece, think about it, and try to figure out where and how it fits together to create the completed picture. Which puzzle is going to require more of your time, your creative thinking, and your emotions? Which puzzle are you going to be more invested in? Which puzzle will bring you the most satisfaction and be the most remembered?                                                                

     After years of tragedy and triumphs, Becky, the main character in my novel, Breaking TWIG, concludes that, “We all filter the realities of life through our own personal fears, individual experiences, and the human need to cling to hope despite the circumstances, regardless of the odds. And in doing so, we each determine our own truth.”

Inside the pages of a book is where I find the people, places, words, and ideas that inspire and challenge me to continually seek and reevaluate my own truth. Where does your inspiration come from?

Thanks for stopping by,

Deborah                               

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