If you know me at all, you know that I love books.
So, that needless introduction aside, I had a moment today when Epic Reads posted this gif on Facebook. It made me think about how much trust we place in books and why, on earth, we do that.
I always question the trust I place in people, and I am pretty standoffish with 99% of the people I meet, but I have never, ever questioned the trust I’ve placed in a book. Does it have pages, does it have words? Does it have a story? Done. So, you could say that I’m overly willing to trust a book. But why? Why am I so ready to trust my brain and my feelings to a book I’ve just met?
Well, first, I trust book recommendations from people I trust (please excuse the irony here).
And so when they recommend a book (as do SO MANY of my tweeps on Twitter, then the odds are that I will read it. In fact, in the last year and a half, MOST of the books I’ve read are a result of someone recommending it on Twitter. So. Peer pressure? Trust? I follow some of the best book people on Twitter? MAYBE all of that.
Then, the truth is, there’s a certain amount of trust we place in fictional characters. If you’re like me, you might become emotionally involved with characters in some way. We root for them; we cry along with them; we hate if and when people work against them; we hate them; we are conflicted about how we truly feel about them; we cannot figure out their motivation; sometimes, we even hope someone trips them and they fall flat on their face. In short, we invest our feelings in characters. Sometimes, books break our hearts. Sometimes, they lift us up to the highest peaks of joy only to devastate us in the next chapter. So, basically, we’re all Harry in the Prisoner of Azkaban. We’re going to suffer through every sling and arrow our favorite character does, and on the other side—even if we bawl our eyes out—we’re going to ultimately be happy about it.
We trust our opinions about books, and we trust that other people will love them like we do. This is especially true if we recommend a book to other people. Sometimes, we might love a book so much we would be willing to die on a hill of love for it. And if someone doesn’t like it, they better look out. Even worse, if someone attempts to engage in conversation about a book we love but they haven’t read, that’s a problem. We totally trust our conviction about a book’s merits, a character’s strength, or our desire to string a character up by his/her toes.
Finally, we trust that books will love us back. Those pages, characters, stories, hopes, loves, losses, triumphs, and joys will always be there for us, no matter what. The characters we love and the trials they endure and journeys they take will always stay with us. Sometimes, they make us better and different people—people who are more equipped to live and love and, yes, trust.
So, what about you? In which book do you place YOUR trust? Why?
I’ve never thought about the concept of trusting a book. So in retrospect once I’ve finished reading a book and have experienced the emotional ups and downs of it, I’ll put it down, I may discuss it with friends, and I may even recommend it, if I really really liked it, and then finally I will put it away and forget about it. Isn’t this what most people do?
I think some people do that, but a book always stays with me in one way or another after I’m done reading it.
I trust I’ll be swept up in a story when I read it. Whether it’s 100 words of flash fiction (like the one I read today: http://wp.me/p4vs5L-hk) or a novel that keeps me thinking long after I’ve finished it (one example is Laura Lanni’s debut novel Or Not to Be), I trust a story to make me think and feel and care.
Exactly all of this!