The absorbing power of books (and alienating people)

I love Harry Potter.

Yeah. You heard it. I don’t care about the movies – they were “meh”, and I really don’t care what Rowling gets up to these days, that’s her business. I don’t troll paparazzi and news sites to find out what Daniel Radcliffe is up to, don’t care. 

When I was 10, the first Harry Potter book hit the shelves. I lived in backwoods nowhere and didn’t start reading them until the third book came out, because BACKWOODS NOWHERE.

It didn’t deter me that I was behind everyone else because it actually worked out awesomely for me. I got to read book 1, then the next two books in rapid succession, and it only took me about a week to finish all three of them. I was hooked, and BOY did it take forever for Goblet of Fire to come out. 

Anyway, I grew up with those books. Every time a new one was set to come out, I would count down the days, practically salivating, waiting to get my hands on it. It would drive me into a frenzy of anxious waiting. The moment I had it in my hands, the rest of the world disappeared and all that existed was the story. I once waited at B&N for  Half Blood Prince to come out with my friend, and we had a lovely time, drinking butterbeer, hanging out with other Potterheads, finding interesting ways to pass the time. I’m afraid, though, that once I had that magical tome in my hands it was all over as far as my socializing skills. She had been nice enough to drive us to B&N, so I slid into the passenger seat, book cradled in my arms, and cracked open to the first page. I realized it was totally illogical, it was 2am, super dark out, and I couldn’t reasonably ask her to keep the dome light on for the hour long drive back to backwoods nowhere. Also, and this registered with me (barely) that it would be rude for me to begin reading while she was right there, just as much a fan as me, and couldn’t. 

Friend: Are you really going to start reading that right now?

Me: Yes.

An incredulous look is exchanged.

Me: No?

(I am going to note here that I remember the almost physical pain of closing the book.)

Friend: Seriously.

Is that verbatim? Pretty sure it’s not. Give me credit, it was a while ago . I don’t remember every single word, but that was the gist of it.

Yeah, I’m a selfish dork.

I’ve realized that my unhealthy absorption of books alienates the people around me, and that’s a bad thing.  I try not to do it, but even today I’ve been known to ignore the world around me when I’m reading. It makes me feel like a total jerk when I’ve been reading and I suddenly realize that someone is mad at me for it, because they’ve been talking to me for the past 10 minutes and I haven’t heard a single word. 

Anyway, books are awesome, reading is fantastic, but it can easily become an escape attempt from the real world. If that’s what you are doing in your reading; stop. The world is  going to be right where you left it when you look up from those pages. If you’re looking to escape, you should probably look at solving some life problems first. Don’t worry, your books will always be there when you get back. 

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6 thoughts on “The absorbing power of books (and alienating people)

  1. I know that disapproving/annoyed look well. But honestly, who has the audacity to interrupt a person reading, and then be mad at them when they don’t immediately close their book and divert all attention to their interrupter? As the often interrupted, more often than not my continued reading is my passive aggressive way of saying “piss off”.

  2. Seriously? This is perhaps one of my favorite memories. I remember how magical it felt in that store, being surrounded by all the other people who were completely in love with the story and characters. I remember wishing that we had considered dressing up in character costumes, but as you mentioned BACKWOODS NOWHERE.
    I remember the conversation going about like that verbatim with this little gem, “If you’re going to read, at least do it out loud because I certainly can’t do it whilst driving”.

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