Spending the evening curled up with a book – before the onslaught of Netflix and Amazon Prime, this was a fairly unremarkable pastime. But now, it has faded into a quaint idea. In these times of finishing an entire season of Game of Thrones in one sitting, it is difficult to imagine binging a novel.
“I just couldn’t put it down.”
“It kept me up all night.”
“I had to buy the sequel immediately!”
These phrases were fairly common, and for good reason. Or reasons. For the very purposeful among us – for whom mere entertainment is not enough (I have to say for me it definitely is) – reading takes you from your little house in your little street to the whole world. It teaches, fosters, enlightens, broadens, exposes…
If we go back to the beginning, books used to be something sacred – accessible only to an elite few. Besides the physical value of paper, the intrinsic worth of the book was in the knowledge it contained. And the same is true today. They can still be your compass to the world – whatever genre you pick.
Whether it is the political intrigues and religious upheavals of Henry the VIII or the step-by-step process of Becoming Michelle Obama (aka Superwoman)… their times inform us, their vicissitudes inspire us, their stories act as a bridge between our times and theirs. While they lead a nation, their dynamic thinking and foresight can be applied to make your start-up a success.
For many an exhausted and worn down parent driven further up the wall with an endless string of “but why?”, it is not hard to imagine that The Famous Fives would be a godsend. Curious little minds are appeased by caravan and treasure island adventures for a bit. As they swiftly move on to shadowing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock and Agatha Christie’s Poirot, they eventually forge into the investigative world, using their evolved analytical skills to become some of the most intuitive detectives and the keenest minds in forensics.
While we often dismiss sci-fi and fantasy as a form of escapism, as too far removed from reality to be of any practical use, it is the kids who ponder the artificial gravity in Star Trek, or insist on having R2-D2 as a pet – essentially those who deliberate on the line between reality and fantasy – that end up breaking boundaries and pushing the limits of innovative technology.
Literary fiction: the stuff of Pulitzers and Bookers. These authors have mastered their craft, creating characters that have become icons. The flawed Becky Sharp from Vanity Fair, the eternal favourite Darcy from Pride and Prejudice…. their eloquence, their interactions, their ability to communicate – or lack thereof – in the broader sense, all mirror the everyday situations we face. You not only feel for the characters, but with them.
While we wait for scientists to invent a machine for travelling through time and space, books are the next best thing – and probably a lot cheaper.