“What’s the point in reading, when you’re just going to finish the book anyway?”
My niece- a solid eight and a half year old avatar of beauty, lanky height, and startling brilliance- pitched this question to me the other day.
To her credit, she is quite the voracious reader. She enjoys novels, graphic novels, and comic books in general. Her comprehension is astounding and her ability to connect the themes she’s reading and, to a degree, implement them in her actual life rivals that of most adults I come across. In fact, when she asked me the question, she and I were both sitting down halfway through our respective comics. She was hanging with Uncle for the weekend, so I’d performed my solemn duty and took her to my local (and favorite) comicbook store of all time: Blastoff in North Hollywood. She and the manager (a dear friend of mine), Harley Salbacka (“Ms. Harley” to the kids whenever I bring ’em), hit it off spectacularly as I knew they would.
Let me pause here for a commendation. Can I just say how important it is for retailers of the written word, comicbooks in particular, to do more than simply sell items? Harley excels in this regard. She has a carefully crafted gift of pinpointing what you like and predicting other tangential interests to further satisfy your desire to read something satiating. From the elderly to the toddlers, she does this incredibly well, but it’s especially amazing to watch her do it with children. She engages them as if they are the adults in their world and then… magic just happens.
And it happened with my niece. So much so, that I actually had no idea what they were talking about anymore. Lol But they did. They were tied into their own little universe, making the galaxies spin in dizzying circles by force of their potent connection.
And twas in the aftermath of this bonding that we found ourselves reading.
Twas the aftermath, whereupon my niece posed her question.
I paused. Considering. This wasn’t a question born of ignorance or lack of familiarity with consuming miscellaneous tales. Her imaginatively, practical mind had unearthed a cryptic piece of musing. She was looking for something.
In the spontaneous instant of a single moment, the world of fiction had overshadowed that of the so called “real life.” The transmutation was complete. She, the wide eyed apprentice; I, the wizened guru.
“Because. If we really like it, we can always read it again. And if we don’t finish the stories, then we don’t get that good feeling. You know when you read a really good book? That feeling you get? We wouldn’t get that.” I spoke measuredly. Maintained eye contact, so that she would know I was going somewhere with intent. Not brushing her off. “Plus, you and Ms. Harley wouldn’t have had that awesome connection and conversation without reading.”
Her eyes flicker.
“But even more than that… one day, you will meet somebody. And that somebody will be going through something and you’ll say ‘Aha! I know the perfect thing you should read!'” She finished my thought for me. “But I won’t be able to do that if I haven’t read the book.” I nodded, smiling with satisfaction.
And then the moment was passed and life continued on.
(That’s important to know by the way- when a moment has raised its sail. That way we don’t drown our audience and eliminate the progress or point made)
I could see in her eyes that she’d gotten it. For now. I am sure that we will have a very similar conversation at later point in her life. She’s 8! (and a half) Despite her impressive, intellectual advancement, I know that she does not yet have words for the stronger question questing about the lagoon of her spirit.
Why does story really matter?
Happy trails my friends.
Ask better questions,
Do interesting things,
Live your best story possible,
Keep your wings up.
Joshua Evans is a prolific writer and sci-fi/fantasy enthusiast who believes story is central to everything and that mythology can change the world. He currently hosts two youtube shows- The Truth About Superheroes and Comic of the Week, as well as runs a short story blogsite on medium as The Story Junkie. If you would like to further be a part of his cosmic psyche, you can join him on Twitter and Instagram or simply subscribe to this blog… and remember- sharing is caring! Cheers!