Recently, I’ve been working on moving and in the process, I’ve been touring apartments for potential places to live. When you’re touring apartments, sometimes you catch a glimpse into the lives of the residents. What are their interests? What kinds of people lived here and what kind of life could you expect?
I saw surfboards tacked to walls and cat litter all over the floor. I’ve seen marathon medals and dog beds and views of the California mountains. I’ve seen apartments with beautifully laid out furniture, but the one thing I couldn’t find in any of these apartments were books.
There were no books.
And it was only in hindsight when I realized this. How can someone live without books? I mean, I would imagine there being at least a few coffee table books or some old textbooks from college, but I didn’t even see that. It was almost like people in my new neighborhood just didn’t read books. This being Southern California I’m not completely shocked by this news, but still really? No books at all?
Of course I’m snubbing my nose at these people because books are my life. But I realized that books aren’t the life of everyone else in the world. And then it made me think. What if I wasn’t a reader?
The first thing I would probably notice is a darker and more angry Simone. Studies have recently shown that book readers are more empathetic to people and their lives. If I didn’t read, I wouldn’t be as empathetic as I am now. Maybe I would be more judgmental and maybe people would be less inclined to be around me because of it.
I would probably also still have all of my anxieties about life. Like many readers, books are an escape for me. It’s the same as watching TV or listening to music. I read because it helps me to leave reality for a little bit and imagine a life different than mine. Unlike TV and music, books transport me and make me feel like I’m living another life in another perspective. It makes me see things that might come off fake on TV or poorly conveyed through music. If I didn’t have books, I wouldn’t have that opportunity.
When books are such an integral part of your life, your life shapes around those books. It’s why they say kids should read when they’re young. Young readers make adult readers and more empathetic people. You may read a thousand books in your life, but it only takes one book to make you the reader. It only takes one book to change your life forever.
So if I didn’t have reading in my life, I think I would be different. Maybe a little bit colder. Maybe a little less intelligent. I might even have a different job. I might even have a different husband. I can’t imagine that life because it’s like trying to understand what happens beyond the edges of our universe or what happens to you after you die. It’s unfathomable for me to imagine and if I did, all I can see is this dark souled person who didn’t find a lot of joy in her life.
What about you? How do you imagine yourself if you didn’t have books? What if you weren’t a reader?