Yesterday afternoon, following an optometrist's appointment (of which much more anon) I was wandering the mall and feeling a bit low, so I decided to buy myself a little something to cheer myself up. I looked at some DVDs and clothes, but nothing really tickled me. Then as I was walking past the book shop I saw Lisey's Story, the new novel from Stephen King, on display. I hadn't even heard of it and certainly hadn't intended to buy it, but next thing I knew I'd handed over the money and was heading home with a carrier bag in my hand.
As I've mentioned here before, I don't really read novels. I do have several fiction works which I re-read and enjoy very much; 1984, Pride and Prejudice, The House Of The Spirits...but when it comes to how long it's been since I sat down with a new novel to read, we're counting in years, not months.
Anyway, I settled in with my new purchase. I was a little apprehensive reading the plot summary - it sounded, to be honest, like another Bag of Bones but with the genders reversed. (It also sounds worryingly like King was "writing for women" - and I'll only assume that he isn't, because a writer with his sales must know the market better than that).
Then once I got a few pages in, I was hooked. It may have had something to do with the fact that in the opening scenes of the book, it's extremely hot and muggy - and so it was here, yesterday afternoon. Nonetheless, something took over me - the gotta of a good novel. It's different from reading non-fiction. I read non-fiction because I love it, I want to know more of the world and how it and people work - but let's face it, you always know how it ends, no matter how well it's written or how avidly you turn the pages. And there's more to it than that - not only do I want to find out how it ends, I'm enjoying the journey it's taking me on to get there. I read and read last night, barely glancing at the TV (I always have it on at night, if quietly - it's too creepy in my house otherwise), until I started nodding off as "Up-Late" came on. Then this morning, I even got up early to read some more, cursing when I came time to leave for work (sadly, the book is too large to fit in my laptop bag). I can't wait till I get home tonight and can pick up where I left off.
How did I ever let this go? I must confess, I've actually held novels, and the people who read them, in a sort of low-level contempt - what good are they? What can you learn from them? Now I see it's not always about what you learn, that reading can be the simple pleasure of a journey somewhere magical, to the pool of words. And that can be a lesson in itself.
One thing's for sure: I'm definitley going to do this more often from now on.