Five Things Non-readers Must Understand About Readers

interruptDon’t worry. I recognize the irony of the title. Non-readers aren’t likely to read a blog post unless there are lots of pictures (like the buzzfeed variety). Really, this post is for readers to nod to in agreement as they read it, and maybe, just maybe, a reader will convince a non-reader to learn a thing or two. Just in case, I’ll add some pictures and maybe something shiny.

1. Reading does actually qualify as doing something. 

I know. It doesn’t look like much. We’re relaxing on the couch or on the floor or on the grass or wherever. All we’re doing is staring at an open book or a tablet screen. But really, there’s a whole world going on inside our brains. If you looked at a PET scan of someone that was taken whilst reading, all sorts of brain areas would be lit up. It takes energy to create a story and bond with people that don’t exist.

2. Hours lose all meaninmentally presentg when we’re in the middle of a good story. 

It’s funny how “just a few more pages” becomes “well, I finished it. Huh.” It’s even funnier how often this happens. If you haven’t experienced this, that means you’re not reading the right kind of books. You want to find one that makes you think sleep is for the weak at least once or twice.

3. The characters feel like real people, and they go through all manner of crappy situations. We want to see if and how they get out of said crappy situations. 

A story about some guy with a regular old life, a happy family, a stable job, and no enemies trying to kill him for the story’s duration would be a pretty boring storetale. The best characters remind us of ourselves in some way, which makes it all the more important that we see them through their struggles. We owe it to them. Also, a surprisingly high percentage of book characters die (looking at you, George R.R. Martin). We grieve them, if only for a short time.

4. We can never have enough books.

My kindle has made it easier to hide the number of books I own from my husband.

Wait, did I type that out loud?

Seriously though. Readers, if you don’t have a tablet, get one. Bookshelf space problems are a thing of the past. If you’re one of those who likes the smell and feel of a book, go to the library and feel up a few. I’m sure they won’t mind.

5. We believe the book is always, always better than the movie.

How many hours does it take to read a novel? Probably more than two, I’m guessing. The author has thousands of words available to create visual worlds, characters that are basically real people (or aliens or whatever), and multi-faceted problems that are not easily solved. Directors have to boil all that down into a two-hour spectacle that works on the screen. That means things that were important in the book don’t even get a mention in the momovie booksvie. Here’s a quick test to see if someone really read The Hunger Games or just saw the movie: ask them who Madge is.

Also, if you pay attention whilst reading, you’ll notice that most of the time, the author doesn’t give extremely specific details about every little thing in the story. Why? Because the reader wants to be involved. Our mental image of a character probably doesn’t look exactly like the guy they pick to play that role in the movie. My image of Haymitch in The Hunger Games looked nothing like Woody Harrelson.

These elements of books-into-movies aren’t necessarily bad. But when reality falls short of expectations, disappointment results. That’s just human nature.

And now, because I promised it to the non-readers, here’s something shiny. foil

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