Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ye Old Faithful Companion

The objects comprised of stacked and bound paper, adorned with the scrawls of ink in the shapes of a predetermined codes, most often referred to as books, have existed throughout the span of time. Their earlier versions may have been scrolls and and even verbal communication but their primary purpose was always the same: to share and record, ideas, stories and information. Most books today are kept neatly on shelves when they are not being devoured by hungry eyes but it may be advisable to keep at least one book on hand at all times. The companionship of a book always in hand not only provides a ready weapon and cloak of near invisibility but transports entire worlds, ready to open at the carrier's whim.
Though a book can be cumbersome to carry at first it is invaluable as a weapon against those who pose a threat or appear bothersome. A reader standing in a corner is actually carrying a practical bludgeon that requires little effort to reach out and thump an unsavory character across the head. This, of course, seems most obvious in a hard covered copy but even a paperback, applied with the right force, can give adequate pain to an advisory.
A book also possesses the magical ability to render its holder invisible. Upon seeing someone engrossed in a book --or perhaps pretending to be engrossed -- an unsuspecting observer will assume the reader oblivious to the outside world and say the most interesting things. Many bits of information can be achieved in this manner without ever arousing suspicion on the part of the speakers. This assumption induced invisibility is also useful in avoiding unpleasant conversation. In an extreme case a book cover can hide the identity of a competent reader from those with whom they do not wish to converse but even if the reader is recognized an acquaintance may pass by without comment and never realize that they have been snubbed.
When conversation does become necessary --or even desired --a book is equally useful in steering the direction of a conversation. If the book is well chosen it will spring a conversation that is of interest on the part of the reader. Because most have less time to read they will conclude the constant raving about books to indicate either an exceptionally high intelligence or an unbalanced and slightly mad mentality. Either way they will be more apprehensive when speaking to the reader in the future. However, if they too are able to fully appreciate such discussions, a wonderful friendship is born.
Of course the assumption that a reader is oblivious to the rest of the world is not entirely without merit. More than half the time it is true. A book is a portal into another world and can provide an escape, not only from tiresome people but hectic schedules and unendurable monotony. The fact that a simple stack of pages can be brought almost anywhere: bus stations, jury duty, pep rallies, parties, and even bars should not be overlooked. A book can rescue moments in these places from unsavory nothingness by feeding the mind with words.
Not even words can provide a lasting escape from stress and tension but they can give a reader wisdom to take with them even when the momentary diversion has ended. A story is a mini-world full of the same problems and confusions as real life. Once could visit world within world within world and never escape the grueling questions of life but seeing the life of a character from a broader, more objective viewpoint can help bring new perceptions an insight with which to live. Even nonfiction is a transportation into a world inside the author's head --into thoughts and experiences that can can be explored.Small side effects such as burning dinner, running into poles, and not hearing your name when it is called for the winning of a lottery seem like a fair price to pay for this exchange. A well written book is more than an indulgence in escapism. It has the power to revive a reader and strengthen them for the trials they face.

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