I read. I read extensively. I have far too many books. In my opinion, however, books are like shoes. A girl can never have enough of them. As a mother, I enjoy the opportunity to paint a picture of a different world for myself. Don't get me wrong. I love my world, but every once in a while I enjoy the thought of a world where there is five minutes without the words, "Mom, she pulled my hair/ hit me/ took my toy/ etc." The world inside my book is quiet for the most part. I will admit that there are sometimes numerous explosions, foul language, the possibility of gunshots, and the occasional dead body. That is what makes the world in my book interesting.
The nice thing about books is that you can visit them again like a much loved friend. My husband doesn't visit his "book friends" as often as I do. He doesn't necessarily believe in rereading his books. I have sometimes found myself thinking about a character in a much loved book and wondering, "Whatever happened to Elizabeth and Darcy? I bet they are having a good time at Pemberley. I wonder if Lydia is still an idiot." Not that I would read one of the Pride & Prejudice sequels. (I find that a bit too unimaginative. Come up with your own characters, people. Elizabeth never fought zombies, nor did Abraham Lincoln hunt vampires.) Sorry, that is just the way it is for me.
I noticed that one of the feelings that I have when I read a book is an envy for the lifestyle of the characters in the plot. During that time I wish I was an inept bounty hunter with two men fighting over her. I wish that I was trying to find my father and learning more about Dracula at the same time. I wish that I was fighting the Orcs and protecting the Ring. During the time that the book is in my hands, I am Elizabeth. (Have you noticed my deep and abiding love for Pride & Prejudice yet?) I am Stephanie Plum. I am Frodo. Reading gives me that.
I noticed the other day a key difference in my lifestyle from that of my favorite characters. (Other than a license to carry a concealed weapon or living in 19th century England, of course.) The characters of my books rarely stop their busy, interesting, and sometimes dangerous lives to watch television. (Those of them set in the time period for the invention, obviously.) They are too busy enjoying their lives. I have hobbies. I have children to raise. I blog (sometimes....). But I do watch a considerable amount of television. I need to change that.
Turn off the television and pick up a book. Visit a much loved character or find a new one. Books tease the imagination. They challenge you to picture the story in your head. Books are like television in your head. Without books I wouldn't know the winning players of the NHL each get some special time with the Stanley Cup. I wouldn't know that if you burn a corpse it is believed that the person's spirit cannot walk. (Ew, but still interesting.) I learned these facts from works of fiction. I cannot begin to tell you what I have learned from the nonfiction books I have read. So learn something, allow your brain to paint a picture with an author's words, or just slide into the quiet that reading brings.