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When I Get a Little Money

Have you been to Antarctica? How about Morocco? Nineteenth-century Russia? Have you ever been on the front lines of battle or been smuggled across a nation's border in the trunk of a car? Have you visited other worlds? Seen creatures beyond imagining, creatures that dwarf our own sense of importance? Met your Prince Charming? Have you been chased by Nazis or hunted by trolls? Have you saved the world, only to see it plunge into greater depths of despair?

I have. And I've done it all without leaving my house. Books, you see, are more than just paper and glue and ink. They are portals to another world, one without boundaries, where no one tells me that I cannot do something because I am too young, black, or a 'just a girl'. Through books I have lived many lives and died a thousand deaths. I have reached for the sky and crashed to the lowest pits of hopelessness. But that's all right. Because I can get up again, and this time, I achieve my goals. This time, I defeat the tyrant, whether it be an immoral dictator or my own fear.


Books transport me to an imaginary world full of Elves and Hobbits, or one full of Centaurs and talking lions. Fantasy gives both a respite from the drudgery of everyday life, and a glimpse of what could be if what is wasn't. It opens a window that doesn't close, even after the book is shut and back on the shelf, right there between the SAT prep book and the classic romance novel.


Romance and other 'chick-lit' offers a couple hours of ease that I know will end with the girl getting the guy of her dreams and everyone living happily ever after. I know things aren't perfect in real life, but it's nice to imagine that somewhere, maybe, someone is getting everyone she desires. And perhaps it could be me someday. Even after I finish such story it's nice to ponder what might be. I think that someday, I'll get my Mr. Darcy. Those books have nice, peaceful thoughts that are a pleasure to envision as I drift off to sleep at night.


Thrillers are another story. Adrenaline-pumping heart-stoppers, they make me hold my breath in anticipation. I want to enter the story so I can tell the protagonist that the serial killer is hiding in the alley. The best thrillers make it impossible to put them down until I've finished the last sentence, until the criminal is caught, until the hero has rescued his love. They make me appreciate the safety and comfort of my own home. But I'd like to be the heroine in one of those stories, too. Then again, I am. I'm in every one that I've read. That's why I read them.


For some people, books are to be merely read. But for others, they are to be experienced. They are to be lived. They are to be opened, gateways to Middle-Earth where Elves dwell, Saudi Arabian deserts where terrorists prowl, and Forks where vampires live among us. For some people, books are as necessary for living as food and shelter. For some people, books are living. As one such person said, "When I get a little money, I buy books; and if there is any left I buy food and clothes."*


*Erasmus (1466?-1536)



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Abi J. said...
Oct. 29, 2009 at 1:59 pm:
Wow, I LOVE the way you wrote that! Thats exactly how I feel about books! I like how you said "I think that someday, I'll get my Mr. Darcey". So You've read Pride and Pejudice? I LOVE all the Jane Austen books!
At the moment I'm reading "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R Tolkien and can hardly get away from it!
 
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