You are walking alone in a dark forest, hiding the stolen papers under your sweater, taking delicate steps in order to avoid making any noise so that they will not hear you as you sneak between the river and their base camp, a mere 50 feet away. In the darkness, your movement is achingly slow, but you know that going slowly will be the best form of protection that you can give yourself and the important papers you are carrying. As you start to head away from their camp…CRASH!
Your cat just knocked your water glass off the table in the next room.
Wait, I’m not in the dark forest on a top secret and urgent mission..? No. I’m just sitting here in my sweats on the couch, reading about it. It’s not me. Darn it.
After you get over the shock of being forcibly thrown back into reality by your pesky cat, you begin to reflect on how amazing it is that you actually felt like the character in your book. Your heart was racing, your breathing was hushed, and you weren’t even conscious of the fact that all you were actually doing was moving your eyes back and forth on a page really fast.
Our minds are absolutely incredible for giving us the ability to completely forget our real lives and to become so absorbed into a story that we think that we are a real part of it. You know that you have found a gem of a book when this happens to you. If we, as readers, are not careful, this could also be dangerous. It is a treat to be able to be transported, but if this happens to us often, then we risk being too caught up in the story that we forget that we are the main character in our own stories, and that we need to live out our own lives.
This can happen especially when reading a series, because you are constantly involved with the same characters, and you get to know them over an extended period of time. You get pulled in deeper and deeper into the world of the book, and once you put it down, your life does not seem that great. You’d much rather live in the book, right? I definitely went through a brief phase where I really wanted to go to Hogwarts.
I loved that the Harry Potter series had the ability to carry me away, but it is also that same ability that can really cause problems for those of us who whole heartedly invest in stories. When reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, I walked around angry for a week, because everyone at Hogwarts was mad at Harry for no real reason. It wasn’t because anything in my life had caused this, but because fictional characters were being mean to another fictional character. That is a problem.
Allowing yourself to carry your story over into your real life can cause ‘reader’s depression’ as I like to call it. Your reality is skewed, and it will never live up to the perfectly crafted, more romantic, exciting, or fun world that an author has created. Usually, novels are not supposed to reflect day-to-day life, so it is ridiculous to expect them to.
If you find yourself falling into this frame of mind, close the book and take a deep breath. Look around you and realize how awesome your life is; stop and appreciate what you do have and everything you have done, and be thankful for that. Then, after this refreshing dose of reality, go on to read to your hearts content.
Breaking from reality to become enveloped into a great story is often an excellent way to learn, relax, and be entertained, but to not break from the story when you eventually step back into reality can be a challenge.
You should treasure the times that books can pull you so far into their pages that it seems real, but when it’s time to put the book down, pull yourself back out into the world.
That is, until next time.