I've never found it surprising that many book people end up studying literature or English in university. I'm currently in the application process, so this was even something I considered, but after finishing an English essay on Hamlet, I had an epiphany.
I hate essays. That's nothing new. What I realized is that I don't care much about the literary aspect of a story.
Good writing is nice, but it's not a requirement for me. I appreciate words, but I've never been the most eloquent writer. My style is factual and I think a little choppy. I know people with the skill to write intricate, weaving sentences. They're the people excelling at purple prose, and reading a well written passage is always a breath of fresh air. However, to this point I still don't feel like good writing draws me to a book.
|Melina Marchetta, one of my favourite authors.|
During a Lauren Oliver event, one of the most interesting things she said was that taking English at NYU taught her about writing, but she never learned of plot. She would write hundreds of pages of beautiful words but she couldn't connect them in a good story until Before I Fall.
This came as a surprise to me because the story is what I love.
Lurking in the world is a bit of snobbery when it comes to reading. Book worms haven't always had the best reputation because in our extroverted society, people don't understand the merits of staying home to read rather than going out to a party. Maybe I'm the only person to have dealt with this, but reading isn't always something people respect, especially the people that consider it "boring".
I was partaking in the daily struggle of walking upstairs to my locker when I heard someone say, "Why read the book when you can watch the movie?" Frankly, this attitude of misunderstanding the brilliance of our quiet hobby can get to bookworms, so I do notice some arrogance. It's where the "reading is sexy" campaigns come from.
|Who does this? This does not look comfortable.|
This isn't a prevalent attitude. Most bookworms I've met are superb, intelligent people. I can't pretend though that my hobby makes me any more intelligent than if I were a movie junkee or a video game junkee. I don't feel like I enjoy books because they're intelligent and make me look at the world differently every day. Some do, but I generally read for enjoyment, not enlightenment.
I love stories.
It shouldn't have surprised me when I realized I was a fan of watching hockey. It did though, and it was such a sudden thing: one week I didn't watch hockey, the next I did. Maybe it was a phase, but it has lasted two years. I used to characterize myself as a bookworm and so it felt wrong to like watching a sport. Like, wasn't that what brain dead jocks did?
After some reflection though, I've realized that as someone who loves stories, sports are another story. They're a story of goals and shots and win and losses. There are narratives everywhere with suspect reliability. Having a team I'm a diehard fan for is absolutely ridiculous, because it's just a game, but that's the same way people belittle books; they're just words. They're not. They are stories.
My last major interest is once again new. I've always loved to sing. I grew up watching American Idol with my parents, and I remember trying to sing with the contestants as a kid. Whenever I was given a music creativity assignment like composition, I always loved it. However, I never felt like a music person. I couldn't relate to lyrics and voices: music never changed my life, and I didn't need it like some other people do.
Even now, I'm not overly passionate about it, but music makes me happy. I listen to house, electric, techno, all those styles and I read somewhere that music is the only thing that can make you use all parts of your brain at once. I think that's especially true for me. Songs can awaken feelings that matter. They can be emotional and most importantly, they are a story in themselves. The best songs are the ones that make a history for themselves within my consciousness, so when I hear the song, I'm also feeling the story. "Don't You Worry Child" by Swedish House Mafia is one of my favourites for this.
The song makes me nostalgic, and it's like a balm telling me whenever I'm not sure of myself or my life that everything can work out. It reminds me to move on, and so through the beats and melodies and lyrics, it's another story: mine.
Stories can be found everywhere through different mediums. Different mediums speak to people. Ultimately though, I've found that I don't really care about words: I care about plot and characters. I don't care about hockey: I care about my team. I don't care about music: I care about complex melodies. I care about stories more than the art form itself. How about you?