A Case of Book Obsession

August 04, 2016

I have a Case of Book Obsession, but in my defense, it’s completely genetic.

My father is, and has always been a literature connoisseur, going through books as if they were candy, and refusing to leave the local Barnes & Noble without at least 5 books in hand, even if he hadn’t finished the 15 that he purchased the previous week.

You can’t blame a child who knew who Malcolm Gladwell was before she knew how to write her own name for being a bit predisposed to choose a library over…well, anything.

However, despite my “genetic predisposition” to adore books, there was a time in my high-school years when books morphed into what I never imagined- a chore. (Perhaps this phenomenon is due to my being forced to annotate every line of Shakespeare until I ran out of ink, philosophize about about Emerson’s philosophy until my brain “philosophically” melted, or overthink every metaphor until I doubted that the author actually meant to use words at all.) Whatever the reason, I found myself exhaustedly turning to the easy (mindless) entertainments that technology provided, in my free time, instead of a beloved/challenging novel.

But then, I had a lightbulb moment-well, three lightbulb moments actually, mostly stemming from my realization of what I missed when I wasn’t reading for enjoyment:

  1. Books Improve My Language: I don’t mean that while I read Pride & Prejudice for the 100th time, I waltzed around speaking in Old English. However, I did find that if I was constantly reminding myself of the correct structure of sentences, the nuances of the writing styles of different authors, and the beauty of obscure words, I somehow felt well-versed when I spoke, as if I had been personally trained by Thoreau and could elucidate any thought.
  2. Books Sharpen My Thought Processes: Books can be challenging, I would never disagree with that statement, but I like to think of it as “mental exercise”. You see, contrary to a picture on social media or the news being blared on your radio, books leave something to your imagination-they don’t tell you what to think, they present you with an idea, an outline for you to fill in with the colors that you desire.
    Every time you finish a chapter of Plato’s The Republic, your mind warms up. Every time you connect Plato’s concept of government with modern day life, your mind runs a mile. And every time you form your opinion of Plato’s ideas, choosing to agree or disagree, your mind finished a marathon. 
  3. Books Broaden My Perspective: Whether a story on the French perspective on World War II, a sweet love story of two immigrants who found each other on their passage to America, or a quaint biography of an elderly man who lived a normal life in a normal home in a normal town but made an abnormally wonderful impact on his neighbors, books broaden my horizons of understanding. It is virtually impossible to read another’s perspective on life, another’s view of the world, and not be impacted by the differences and similarities between you.
    Read a book and you will learn to be more understanding of those unlike you, read a book and you will appreciate those who came before you, read a book and you will become a world traveler without ever leaving your bedroom.

While I know this is a relation of personal experiences, I hope that my Case of Book Obsession is completely viral , and that you find a love for books that is as worthwhile and enjoyable as mine.