Saturday 4 August 2018

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Discussion: How My Imagination Takes Over When I Read

How My Imagination Takes Over When I Read

Today, I thought I'd talk about the way I read. Back before I fell in love with reading, it was such a chore. I hated it. Words on a page that go on and on and on. It was so boring. I couldn't understand why anyone enjoyed it. Why would you put yourself through all those words for hours on end?

Then I read Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling and Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings, and they opened the floodgates to my imagination. They completely changed my reading experience. Suddenly, the words translated into images. I could see what I was reading. Reading was like watching a movie, but more. More like I was in the story; an invisible ghost following the characters - a ghost who could read minds and know what the characters were thinking and feeling. I can see what the characters see, I can smell what they smell, taste what they taste, hear what they hear, feel what they feel. My imagination now completely takes over.

There have been numerous occasions where I've put down a book and have been completely shocked to see where I am, by the amount of time that has gone by, by the fact the sun has gone down. There have been times when the person next to me says something to me, and they have to keep repeating themselves, and eventually nudge me to actually get my attention. Because I couldn't here them. Because I wasn't there, in that room, sitting next to them. I was off in my head, in my imagination, along with the character.

My Dad likes to bring up a certain anecdote about how incredible reading is. It's of the time when we went to the cinema as a family to see Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, and how, when Hagrid came into shot for the first time, I leaned over to Dad and indignantly whispered, "He doesn't look like that!" Because he doesn't. To be honest, sometimes my imagination takes over a little too much; the first time we see Hagrid in the book, he's on a flying motorbike, so my imagination decided he was a beardless biker with long greasy hair, always in a leather jacket and biker boots. Doesn't matter that the book clearly states that he wears a moleskin coat and has a beard. That's not what my Hagrid looks like. And that's the point; I know what each and every character looks like, because I see their faces every time I read.

So whenever I have a conversation with someone about a book I've read in the past, and we're talking about a certain scene, and memories come flooding back, those memories are not of the words on the page, or of how the book smelled, or anything real. My memories are visual. I remember seeing that scene take place. I remember seeing a Dementor for the first time, and what they look like. I remember the very particular pain that comes with Harry's scar hurting. I remember what Voldemort looks like as Wormtail puts him into the cauldron, and what he looks like when he comes out. I have very clear visual, sensory memories. I can hear how Hagrid talks (not how Robbie Coltrane talks as Hagrid), the distinct and different voices of Fleur Delacour and Madame Maxine. The way Dobby speaks and Winky speaks. Moody isn't Irish. Snape doesn't have quite as deep a voice as Alan Rickman. And on, and on. For every character in every book I have read, a specific voice, a specific face. And this is for every aspect of the book; food and drink, smells, the way things feel (like the Pensieve!).

And I'm so thankful that, that's how I read. I can't imagine reading any other way now. If stories were to go back to being just words on a page, I would completely fall out of love with reading. It's not the words that I love so much, it's what I see.

How about you? How do you read? Is it just words on a page for, or does your imagination completely take over, too? Or is it something completely different?

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  1. I always remember how the book made me feel. I was just commenting on a book I read a few months ago, which had been really emotionally, and there were tears in my eyes, when I write my comment. Definitely how it made me feel.

  2. Some old dude from a long time ago says that nobody ever reads the same book... because we all have different ideas of what the book means to us. That's probably true.

    I don't generally forget where I am, but I generally find books to be better than movies.

  3. I don't think I imagine my books nearly as vividly as you do, but I do get what you mean about how our impressions don't match the movies.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction