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I am thankful for ...

BOOKS.

Yes, I am that nerd who writes about books on Thanksgiving, instead of the industry-approved topics of faith, family, or food. (I'm thankful for those too. Obviously. Especially bacon.)

But books, let me tell you about them.

Characters from books were my first playmates, and the reason my childhood was never lonely. Sometimes I pretended to be them - facilitated, happily, with gifts of bonnets and little-red-wagons-converted-to-covered-wagons* from my parents - and sometimes I pretended they were with me and we were having adventures together. Wait, what am I saying? They were with me.

I am twenty-eight now, and I still talk to fictional characters. Nowadays, I even tweet at them.** (And I'm still never lonely.)

Not surprisingly, I credit my rich imagination to extensive reading. And my vocabulary, although there is always the issue of using (and pronouncing) it correctly. And my curiosity, because I find that curiosity, when fed, is never satiated - it only grows.

And one book inevitably leads to another, an endless and interconnected rabbit trail: The Doomsday Book led to Blackout which led to All Clear which led to Code Name Verity which led to Violins of Autumn which led to Agent Garbo, which will soon lead to Double Cross, which will probably lead to a dozen more.

I will die with books unread, and sometimes this terrifies me.

Books taught me to love history in a way high school was never able to do. They also taught me the rudiments of Latin, a working knowledge of architecture, and how to survive in the wilderness.*** Less spectacularly, but of more practical value, they taught me about humans; strange, complex, weird creatures that we are, rarely ever wholly good or wholly evil.

Books are the reason I have the best job in the world. Sure, libraries are about a lot more than books these days, but at the end of the day we're still in the business of giving people information and entertainment, and books are still one of the best ways to do that. And because of that, I have a job pays me money to do awesome stuff like buy books and then help the right book get in the hands of the right person. Every reader his book; every book its reader.

Because of books, I don't get impatient waiting in line. Or at the doctor's office. Or on a plane. How could I be annoyed with the gift of extra reading time?

Books give me a place to go when the real world is to sad or too scary ... or just not very interesting.

Reading exposes me to new ideas and new ways of looking at things: new cultures, new thoughts, and occasionally, someone just like me, just to remind me that 1) I am not alone, and 2) am not really that unique, either.

Okay, books can cause problems too. There was the time when I was six and busy reading and didn't hear my mom say she was going to the neighbor's house, and spent a panicky fifteen minutes convinced she'd been kidnapped or hit by a car or abducted by aliens or eaten by an alligator. (There's also the whole "rich imagination" thing.) There have been hours of lost sleep, and miles of road passing unnoticed****,  and ... nope, that's really all the downsides.

There are plenty of valid reasons for not having time to read, but I can't honestly say I understand people who choose not to read. That said, reading doesn't make me any better than non-readers - but I can promise that it does make me a much better person than I would be if I did not read.

I think books are the closest thing to magic that we have. And for that, I am thankful.

*Laura Ingalls Wilder, of course
**Lizzie Bennet Diaries, anyone?
***I haven't tested that last one yet.

****Only when someone else is driving, sheesh. free web hit counter

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
onetravelsfar
Nov. 23rd, 2012 05:19 am (UTC)
During college and as a teacher I didn't have much time or energy to devote to reading for pleasure, and I'm much happier now that I do!

Because of books, I don't get impatient waiting in line. Or at the doctor's office. Or on a plane. How could I be annoyed with the gift of extra reading time? YES. This is why I love taking the subway rather than driving! Although in even the car I love listening to books (or "This American Life," which practically counts as a book, right? ;)).

eattheolives
Nov. 23rd, 2012 09:15 pm (UTC)
I feel like a much more settled person when I have adequate reading time.

The one thing I lament about my 15-minute drive to work is that it's too short to be good for audio-book listening. =\
ruthette
Nov. 23rd, 2012 05:28 am (UTC)
Yum.
elvenjaneite
Nov. 23rd, 2012 05:53 pm (UTC)
OT, but Double Cross! Double Cross is great. And I have Agent Garbo out right now, waiting to be read.

I love books and I love the friends who natter about them with me.
eattheolives
Nov. 23rd, 2012 09:15 pm (UTC)
As do I! Thank you for being a nattering bookish friend. :)
asoulinbliss
Nov. 24th, 2012 05:00 am (UTC)
This.

Can you "this" a whole post? ;)
chestnutcurls
Nov. 26th, 2012 09:10 pm (UTC)
I will die with books unread, and sometimes this terrifies me.

ME TOO. But I guess there will be books in heaven too. Probably?
eattheolives
Dec. 5th, 2012 04:46 am (UTC)
I hope so. I can't really conceive of heaven being paradise without any books. *bites nails*
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )