Reading alters the appearance of a book. Once it has been read, it never looks the same again, and people leave their individual imprint on a book they have read. Once of the pleasures of reading is seeing this alteration on the pages, and the way, by reading it, you have made the book yours.
But reading is different, reading is something you do. With TV, and cinema for that matter, everything’s handed to you on a plate, nothing has to be worked at, they just spoon-feed you. The picture, the sound, the scenery, the atmospheric music in case you haven’t understood what the director’s on about… The creaking door that tells you to be stiff. You have to imagine it all when you’re reading…
Stories come alive in the telling. Without a human voice to read them aloud, or a pair of wide eyes following them by flashlight beneath a blanket, they had no existence in our world. They were like seeds in the beak of a bird, waiting to fall to earth. Or the notes of a song laid out on a sheet, yearning for an instrument to bring their music into being. They lay dormant, hoping for the chance to emerge. Once someone started to read them, they could begin to change. They could take root in the imagination and transform the reader. Stories wanted to be read. They needed it. It was the reason they forced themselves from their world into ours. They wanted us to give them life.
It is easy to forget how full the world is of people, full to bursting, and each of them imaginable and consistently misimagined.
Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill.