Friday, 15 March 2013

Novel transportation

Out of all the media out there, I think it's safe to say that I've enjoyed and engaged with books the most.

There are many different reasons why I love books. But even though I am always reading one book or another, it's the one form of media I never write reviews on. The main reason for this is simple: I am an emotional animal.

When you come to think of it, unlike other media like films or TV shows, you dedicate hours, days, weeks to a good book. It's inevitable that a person would create an emotional connection with that book over that lengthy period of time. This connection will vary over that time, leading one to many different impressions, emotions and reactions. I would find it difficult to put all of this through a word strainer to create an easily digestible blogpost. Others do this well, but book reviews are not one of my talents.

I've just finished reading the most wonderful book, and it got me thinking about the act of reading and what makes it so very different to any other form of entertainment. 

The other day, someone told me that they think the book is a dying form of media. Having almost-weekly conversations with fellow readers on the Tube on a regular basis, I tend to disagree. This whole dying-out may occur in the future but probably not within my lifetime. Sure, the Kindle may make the act look different, but people are still reading books.

Apart from easily identified benefits like being entertained and the feeling of improving one's knowledge, I think that a good book can transport you during the length of your engagement with it. In easier terms: A good book can suck you in. And this is what makes a book different, especially when it comes to the length of this heightened level of engagement.

There are many ways in which it can do this. Sometimes, with a good crime thriller especially, this plot-driven transportation occurs in a very blatant way. Other times, this can be much more emotional, when the content pulls you in, making you care about the characters and their fates. Sometimes, whether it's due to a lack of technical skill or simply the reader's emotional space, a book fails to move the reader at all.

In my last read, The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, this transportation was the most subtle and gentle I've ever experienced. The prose, which charmed me with its technical grace and often made me smile with its humorous rendering of English manners and the lives surrounding stately manors in the 1950s, only made its full impact known right at the end.

Without much awareness on my part, I was scooped gently off my feet and joined Mr Stevens, the central character, in his retrospective journey. While reading about his own musings on his past, I also started looking at my own. Ishiguro, through Mr Stevens, even gave me a new way to approach some of the more conventionally negative episodes from the past years. By the end of the novel, I was truly sad to say goodbye to this beautiful story, which is probably why I was prompted to write this. 

Some novels don't simply suck you in and then desert you after you turn the last page. Every now and again, a book will leave a long-lasting impact. 

While the book may die out as a form of entertainment for future generations, it certainly won't for my own life, or, if we're on-theme, the remains of my day. If I am ever fortunate enough to have my own children some day, I hope that I can somehow convey this love for books and the emotional power of a good story to them.

For now, I can look forward to the next novel and the next fictional transportation, whatever form that transportation will take.


  1. Lovely! And true! I reckon the form might change in subtle ways, but it's probably here to stay for a long, long time. There's nothing that serves quite the same function or has quite the same effect. Wonderful post. I must read that book! LONG LIVE THE NOVEL! :D

    1. LONG LIVE THE NOVEL indeed!

      My life is so tied up with the books I have read - I wouldn't be the same person without those books. Thanks for the comment and...



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