When we are reading a good book, we inhabit the created world of that book. Be it Edwardian drawing room murder mystery, an entirely imaginary science fiction world, a foreign country or a distant time, the well-written book draws us effortlessly into that world. Even when we have finished that book, it lingers in the mind and retains the power to draw us back into that world.
We may yearn for worlds that we shall never visit, or times that we will never experience, but reading a good book gives us the closest experience to this that we may ever have. Fancy the dangerous world of the secret agent? Then immerse yourself in a James Bond novel and live that life. And all without the danger of taking a bullet when your guard is down! Wish that you could enjoy the refinement of the nineteenth century upper classes, with balls and dances, romance and country walks? Jane Austen is the girl for you. Middle Earth; there must be thousands of people who secretly inhabit Middle Earth (beware of the conman selling holidays in Mordor though! Sorry, that’s an in-joke. See my previous post if you want to know more). And how many people close their eyes and pilot a rocket to an alien planet? Lots of us are waiting for ‘Space Tourism’ to become a reality, yet novels have been offering that experience for almost a hundred years.
Films can also do this, of course, but because we read at our own pace, and rely more strongly on our imagination, I feel that books can do the job better.
And for the writer, it is all this and much more. Whilst he or she is creating, editing, researching and planning their book, they begin to breathe, eat, sleep and dream that world. Truly, books are the poor man’s World Tour, or passport to danger or the High Life.
The joy of creating the world that one would like to inhabit, or perhaps even the one that one fears, is one that money cannot buy, but costs the writer nothing.
We can kill off our enemies, discover new worlds, create amazing societies or have an affair with the most exciting partner.
We are a lucky bunch of so and so’s.