The profound connections we make through books and other media
By Taylor Charlebois, Staff Writer
A world without books is inconceivable. That’s something I’ve felt my entire life. More than twenty years later, my feelings have yet to change. But I, and my life, have changed greatly.
There are never enough hours in the day to get everything done, being a student, working, interpersonal relationships, the list goes on and on. Even then, there is always one part of my daily routine that I shudder to neglect: going to a bookstore, in-person or virtually.
Preferably, I go to an in-person bookstore — since the pandemic began it has become more difficult to do so. But when I do, I select a couple of books, pick them up, read the backs, smell them (the smell of fresh books has always been a thing for me) and buy the ones that call out to me. Picking out books has always been a part of my life; it’s a part of who I am.
As a child I was a bit of a troublemaker and was sent to my room on more than one occasion. Reading slowly became a part of my routine, as I wasted my youth away in the confines of my prison cell. Books kept the feelings of loneliness, sadness and honestly, any sort of reflection on my actions from destroying my fragile eight-year-old mind.
Fast forward a decade later, my mother’s early death contributed to a lack of maternal role models in my life. But besides drinking my feelings away, as any eighteen-year-old would — I’d find strong women and teachers inside books to guide me along.
This goes beyond more than just books though. Movies, television, video games, music — all forms of experiences I had with media were valuable to me. These experiences would provide me with opportunities to see the world through a different lens. Of course, traveling to another country or planet would be superior. Scuba-diving in real life would most definitely provide a higher-quality experience than reading/listening to someone describe it. However, as I’ve aged, I’ve learned that someone can only do so much and therefore, there is value in sharing experiences through media.
Stories allow the opportunity to go to places you could never otherwise go. You can become a different person, a different ethnicity, or even a different gender. Even when you’re reading a story alone, you’re experiencing something unfold before you just as the author had intended it. Even though you’ve read this in solitude, countless others have also read the same pages as you and that is something that connects you to them.
Media connects us. We are alone in this world, but connected through the stories we experience.
The world is filled to the brim with books, films, music — so much that it would take many lifetimes to experience it all; which sucks, because I have placed an incredible amount of value on the media I consume within my free time.
Those stories that stick with you, that television show that hooked you, or that book that inspired you to change — they can sometimes feel like fate. We have no clue which stories will click for us, or what sort of feelings they will inspire. With that being said, and as something I’ve felt for a long time, I no longer wait for these things to happen. I desire to seek out these experiences, and cherish these encounters. As a side note, I often feel the same way about people and relationships.
I’ve come across all sorts of books; fiction, non-fiction, short stories, memoirs, informational, health and wellness — I’ve read them all. Through the process of recognizing what works for me, I have become better at finding what sort of stories appeal to me the most.
It’s important to know that more often than not, a story doesn’t always connect with me. That is true for books, movies, you name it. To be completely transparent, nine out of ten things I consume is usually a miss. However, among that other ten per cent are incredible works. As a writer, I always think to myself that whenever I produce something, I want it to be included in that ten per cent.
With all that being said, that is why I like going to bookstores. I keep going and looking because I might create a new encounter that might whisk me away to another place and for just a brief moment, I can be free.