Reading the world away

Text by Laura Gabrielle Feasey

I was sat on my bed reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when I discovered my mum was moving us in with some strange man that wasn’t my dad. I stared at the fading bobbled butterflies on my duvet cover for a few seconds, and then I turned back to Violet Beauregarde ballooning into a giant blueberry. Her plight in this chocolate fantasy land made more sense to me than anything the real world could offer in that moment.

That’s the thing about books, and certainly about great books, they make sense. They are written to make sense. As for the world around us, that’s anybody’s guess.

I don’t remember learning how to read. I don’t remember sounding out the letters to work out the words, I don’t remember following the sentences with my fingers. But I do remember sitting in an armchair in the living room of my mum’s boyfriend’s house, head down and buried in a book. While they sat with my sisters watching Saturday night TV and getting used to their new ‘family’, I got lost in Tolkien, J.K Rowling, Dahl and Dickens, and I haven’t found my way back since…

The professionals call it bibliotherapy. The art of reading specific books in a bid to be healed. You can even get a prescription for it. And I can see why. Whether they’re set in far-off lands or the house next door, books have forever had me captivated. They help me forget about the world outside, they have me laughing, sometimes crying, occasionally rolling my eyes and other times jubilantly cheering on, and as all this is going on, there could be a war outside and I wouldn’t even know about it.

It has been said that reading evokes some transcendent state in the brain. You can forget about yourself in the pages of a book, you disengage from stress, and your mind reaches a zen-like summit that is comparable to meditation. It’s arguably more engaging than the TV. It’s the vice for daydreamers, those who enjoy visualising new worlds and building relationships with people on the page, investing days, weeks, even months in a set of people you may not have met before.

So many passions in life are all about the anticipation. I’ve always loved the suspense in waiting to find out what happens next in my latest read; of pressing through the day, soaring through any dark tunnels to find the light and a sigh of relief in that comforting moment when I hold a book in my hands.

I can feel a bubbling sense of delight even thinking about it now. Because in a few hours time I’ll be tucked up in bed, blissfully content as I find out where my latest companion is going to take me.


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