I read every day. Though no one can actually go through a day without reading at least a traffic sign, thanks to smartphones, most people do read more than that on a daily basis. The kind of reading I’m referring to, however, is story. Fiction of whatever kind. Something from someone’s imagination turned into a small reality and shared. Setting my book down this morning–reluctantly–I thought to myself, How does anyone live without stories?
About 1/4 of American adults don’t read books. That 3/4 of the population does read isn’t really heartening. Most of those will admit to reading a book or two a year, and a large percentage of those read non-fiction. Few have read a book a month, and even fewer, more. Statistics vary according to the year, but they don’t travel too far. Readers are a rare breed.
Reading isn’t for everyone. I get that, but I don’t get it. I’ve been a constant reader since I could do so on my own. How does anyone live without novels? Sure there’s television, movies, plays etc. They’re stories we see with our eyes, leaving our brains to simply enjoy. But reading–it takes effort. It’s an act of creation on top of an act of creation, because though writers provide the words, and good ones do a fair job of providing cues and clues, the readers have to finish creating that world, those characters in their own minds. No matter what’s going on in the world, the separate reality within remains constant, and yet, depending upon what’s going on outside those pages, we’ll see different things within the text. It’s the same with any art, of course, your internal dictates its external. I’ve read The Giver (Lois Lowry) every five years since my twenties and I come away with something different every time.
I suppose, story intake is different for everyone. A conversation is full of story. Sit in a cafe, and there are stories all around you. Study a painting, a piece of music, a garden–stories, stories, stories. I know this as well as I know everyone is different, there is no right and wrong but only perspective, that people get what they need in the manner they need it. And sometimes they don’t. But for me? There is no living without story by the written word. There just isn’t.
How about you? Where do your stories come from?