What Readers Have In Common, by Christine Nolfi

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TheDreamYouMakeShadedTo my mind, the lot of humanity is separated into distinct camps. In the first, you’ll find most people, the busy bees and the slackers, the viciously ambitious and the sadly confused. Your employer resides in this camp with her irritating habit of texting her lover while you try to conduct a conversation. So does the gap-toothed cashier at the drugstore, the neighbor with his fixation on golf and the acquaintance who drinks too much. The ranks are filled out with politicians, pastry chefs, gang members, and churchgoers. You’ll also find doctors, college students, dog lovers and pencil pushers.

In the other, much smaller camp sit the readers of fiction, those obsessive souls with nightstands crammed with books. They read on the bus, while dining, on the beach and in the john. They arrive late for parties because “just one more chapter” beckoned.

Why, you may ask, does anyone pick up the habit?

Sure, reading is pleasurable—but not merely for the reasons you assume. Immerse yourself in a story and you shuck off responsibility, choose your companions, avoid everyday tasks and explore an inner world most people never visit. A favorite novel takes the reader on a journey into distant lands and unusual lives. The experience is more compelling than a day-to-day life with its dull predictability and frustrating demands. The process allows the analysis of hundreds of motives and the passage through experiences we’d never otherwise know.

A novel promises two stories—a surface plot, and a deeper exposition of what really happened. A character’s motives are revealed in chapter twelve, or a plot twist arrives to rip away the veil and display the true happenings in a heartfelt or hideous way. Avid readers learn to hunt for meaning, and they carry this lesson into the other world, the one of 9-to-5 tedium. They live richly because they enjoy many lives and embark on adventures in the most unlikely places—on lunch breaks and while sitting on the sidelines of a child’s soccer practice, in the elevator and late at night curled up in bed.

The rest of the world exists in a surface life. Not you. Open a book, and dive deep.

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ChristNolfi Author Photo1ine Nolfi’s contemporary novels provide readers with heartwarming and inspiring fiction. Her debut Treasure Me is a 2012 Next Generation Indie Awards finalist. Midwest Book Review lists Treasure Me, Second Chance Grill and The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge as “highly recommended.” Look for her next release, The Dream You Make.

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Comments

  1. Christine, this is so well said! I’ve lived so many lives through books! I feel I’m a thousand years old some days — but I can fly and turn my enemies into frogs, too! Thanks for a very thoughtful post!

    • It’s a dilemma, isn’t it? Novelists begin as voracious readers–but we also need to write our books! Here’s hoping you find time to both read and write.

  2. Helen Hanson says

    As far as habits go, it’s as addicting as heroin but far better for you. If I turn into a frog later, Diane, I shall be most unhappy . . .
    🙂