I’ve figured out why I like reading so much.
Well, no, that’s an extreme way to phrase it. I can’t put into words all the reasons I love to read.
Let me start from the beginning.
My husband and I were invited to watch an early cut of “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” a few months ago and give feedback. (We also signed a big long non-disclosure clause and weren’t even supposed to mention the name of the movie we saw to anyone, but I think since the movie has been officially released now, I’m allowed to talk about it…. I hope). I enjoyed the movie a lot and laughed to myself at how the time-traveling dog and his boy were rather like a Time Lord and his companion, a la Doctor Who.
On Friday night, we went to watch the finished version in the theatre. It was rewarding to feel like our voices were heard and comments we made were actually changed in the movie; I’m certain that was due to overwhelming comments, not just “mine,” but still: awesome. I couldn’t shake the Doctor Who parallels as I watched them travel through space and time, and I began to reflect on just how much I love time traveling stories.
H.G. Wells “The Time Machine”? Amazing. (Depressing, but amazing).
Hermione’s time turner and that whole ending section of “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”? Brilliant. That’s a large reason why the third book is my favorite of the series.
“Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”? … excellent, of course. The humor of playing around with history and making characters from various eras interact with each other and with modern time is a key in Peabody & Sherman.
“Sliding Doors” with Gwyneth Paltrow? So very clever.
“Doctor Who”? A given.
But time travel isn’t real. We can’t really go back to anywhere at any point in history and immerse ourselves in the culture, language, and experiences of it all.
JUST KIDDING! WE TOTALLY CAN! READ A BOOK!
A book doesn’t have to be about time travel to feel like time travel. When I pick up one of my various favorite fantasy books and dive into the pages, I zone out from the real world and become surrounded by the images in the book, where traveling through the roads kicks up dirt into my face and a dragon might swoop down at any moment. When I read a Victorian era novel like “Pride and Prejudice,” I hear the pianos in the background and sit a little straighter. Even something like “Eleanor & Park,” set just a few decades ago rather than hundreds of years, takes me back in time to a land of cassette mix tapes and big hair.
And there are so many books. My tastes don’t include every genre. Whatever you like, you can find literature about it. Wherever you’d like to go in space or time, you can, thanks to authors and imaginations.
Maybe what people term “escapism” and mock is instead “realistic time traveling” and should be embraced. This magic of reading is something I have been trying so hard to convey to my students; hopefully it’s reached a few.
Now excuse me, I have some time traveling to do!