I was inspired by Read for READ's 2011 short story competition on the theme of "The Book Effect" to write something, but no good story ideas were coming to me. So, instead, I decided to write about a post on The Book Effect.
There is nothing quite like reading a book. Books are a fantastic form of escapism; they can transport from a world of the ordinary and mundane to a world where something exciting is happening, whatever the genre. They can make you laugh, they can make you cry. They can amaze you with the things they hold in their pages, and they can get you talking. They can take you to far away worlds on a spaceship, they can take you into the sewers of a city, they can take you into the lives of everyday people, and cause you to go through a number of emotions along the way.
I've also found books to be brilliant learning tools, and I'm not just talking about teaching kids to read. It's very rarely a day goes by when I'm reading when I don't have to look up a word in the dictionary, and end up increasing my vocabulary. But books can teach you so much more than just reading and words. You can learn about history, myths, religions, beliefs, human nature, politics... the list goes on. I remember instances of being "taught" a recipe, of learning music and movie trivia, of how ships used to be run, and aspects of espionage. There is a great wealth of knowledge incorporated into the most fantastical of fictional stories just waiting to be discovered.
I love the way a book can challenge you. They can force you into situations you never thought you'd be in, make you face an idea or an act, show you a different side to a story and ultimately (possibly) change your opinion, make you understand, or simply open your eyes. They can spark discussion over right and wrong, on the grey areas of a not so strictly black and white world, of morality and ethics. Books can also cause huge uproar among the book community when anyone suggests book banning for inappropriate content.
Books also have this incredible effect of seeming new and fresh even when you re-read them. A book you read when you were 15 may have a completely different story to tell when you're 25 and have lived life a little more and experienced more things. Without anything in the pages having changed, you can get something completely different from it just by being a little older. A book is the gift that keeps on giving.
How many people have overcome something, or at least felt a little better about something due to a book dealing with something they can relate to? Books are a great way of showing people that they're not alone in bad situations, that there are other people out there who understand, and people who can help - and that, ultimately, things can get better.
And finally - though I'm sure there are many other things I could discuss - books bring people together. You have no idea how grateful I am for the wonderful friends I have found through books because of book blogging. Like minded people who understand my squeeing and will squee with me, who will discuss the issues raised, who will drool over that hot fictional character as well, who are also moved or amazed by the wonderful things our talented, talented authors write. I am so glad to know the people I do, either in real life or just online. It's not something I thought would happen, but I'm so glad it has!
So that's what "the book effect" is to me. Never underestimate the power of a book. Books are not just for Christmas, but for everyone. Any time. For life. For ever.