Nonfiction, Literature

Why I Regret Not Reading Novels for Four Years

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Reading a novel takes less than a day in total. During that single day, you‘ve lived multiple by simply reading about them! Perhaps you haven’t lived long enough to have “life experience”, but through reading you’ve gained that experience already.


The last time I read a whole novel of my own choice was four years ago. Yeah, that’s a long time, for me at least. It’s slightly less than 1/4 of my entire life. But this summer! I got an idea, entirely out of the blue, to start reading books again! Probably thanks to the clear sky (pun intended).

At first I bought The Hobbit believing that would be a good introduction to reading again. But no, seen the movie(s), did that done that! A few weeks later I ordered The Martian by Andy Weir. I’ve been hyping about the movie since the trailer first came out this spring. I sense reading the book first is usually a good idea if I don’t want to ruin the whole experience of a book+movie combo. cough Hunger Games, read the books first! cough.

While waiting for The Martian to be delivered to my doorstep I went ahead and bought another novel. Paper Towns by John Green. I recalled that someone had mentioned something about it. So while at a local book store I found it and bought it! The cover looked good and it was standing next to ‘The Fault in Our Stars’. Same author as it turns out! The movie of that was great so I trust another book of the author to be great too!

Anyway, I read Paper Towns in about a week and found that it was the perfect book for me to get into reading novels again. Seriously! It was an astounding story with an incredible flow-of-action throughout the whole book.

In summary, it is about a last-year-high-school-student named Quentin who has loved a girl named Margo since they were kids. He adores her for her enthusiasm for mystery and adventure. One night she asks him to accompany her for a night of adventure. He accepts. But the next day Margo is gone making herself the mystery.
During the week of reading Paper Towns I stumbled upon a paragraph on the web about reading books. I don’t remember the whole text, but it was something in the style of: “During your, at the most (maybe a bit more), 100 year life you can only live one life, yours. But when reading a book or a story you‘ve absorbed someone else’s lifetime and added it to your own.”

I found this text immensely inspiring and motivational for starting to read more. I decided to set a goal to read one entire novel each week. Which I‘ve followed for three weeks now. A few days later I had a thought similar to the one mentioned above:

Reading a novel takes less than a day in total. During that single day, you‘ve lived multiple by simply reading about them! Perhaps you haven’t lived long enough to have “life experience”, but you have gained a lot of that experience by just reading about it.

When telling my friend about this thought he pointed out that the same applies for movies, video games, and really anything with a story. It’s true! But I think there are some differences.
In movies you experience the story through visuals and dialog. In video games you are placed into the story and control it the way you want to, either through movement or through choices (e.g. Life Is Strange), it becomes a lot more immersive that way.

But when reading novels you get the full story and you create your own scenery! You look through first person, second person, and third person all at once. Although novels have a strict storyline and the words can not be changed to your own liking, the imagery can. And that allows for creativity and reasoning, while still following what the writer intended.

The result. All readers interpret the story differently with their own perspective and visuals. Each interpretation creates a unique experience.

Viktor Aronsson

Read more posts by me.

Stockholm, Sweden

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