Monday, 31 March 2014

Death by Bookshelf Part 2 of 3

Why do I read?

Pleasure, education...just because I can???

I'll throw that question back. Why do you read?

In which occurs an Illuminated Ramble with a Reading Lamp

It's the sort of question that will be around for as long as books (and has been). One that has started numerous debates and devolved into a lot of childish shouting. Especially when people start bringing up the type of stories one *should* read. 

I am not going to wander down those paths however because there are plenty of opinions and people out there already. Plus, returning to my title "Death by Bookshelf" well, I wanted to focus on what reading has allowed me to do in a potentially detrimental sense to my self-confidence (or rather what it has not done). To clarify. I read because I love to. It is home. It is comforting. It is safe. It is just me and the characters for however long I desire. That's certainly all well and good but what if you get to a point where all you do every day is read? What if what you are reading is not "high quality" on the scale of published, classic, cult, pop-culture or teen obsession? What then? Is reading bad for you then?

That question has been circling me for the past few months since I finished my schooling and I am living in a limbo of "what do I do next?" even as I heal my wrist so I can get back to completing my ARCT for piano and the last theory exam. Internet has been a cursed blessing. One which allowed me as an Introvert to get involved with people (if only after lurking for a while first). Two, it is a black hole of endless searching and generally of finding all sorts of things to read. I've discovered old alchemic algorithms and gone through various ancient Greek and Roman texts plus some Old English ones too. 

I've spent hours amusing myself on a never-ending trail of literary tropes on the excellent Lord of the Rings fan sites was where it really began however and that led me to fanfiction and a particular LOTR fanfic series by two authors that was so large (and well written in the eyes of angst-ridden 13-18 year olds) that it had spawned a forum of fans. It was there, after lurking for a bit that my online persona or the wacky person I am beneath my tendency to hide behind my hair, that I started feeling connected to like-minded individuals. I started seeing how I let certain people step all over me in real-life. Thi shower came after secretly being obsessed with Lord of the Rings since the final movie installment in 2003. It took five years after that point, before I asked for the extended editions for Christmas and I told my mom rather shyly that I loved Lord of the Rings. She wasn't disapproving, or snide, as I had imagined in my head, in fact she loved it; having a small by deep love for the power of those books and then the movies. 

Thus, reading fanfiction led to me finding a lot of people I still keep in touch with and becoming more sure and open about my likes and dislikes. I admit I still hate choosing things or stating opinions to a degree but now I recognize much of it was, and still is, out of a fear of rejection. Learning to embrace fear is an on-going project for me lately and this is where I say I wonder sometimes if my love of reading is only acerbating it. 

Not to mention, in recent years, perhaps because I have spent the last five being required to read heavy literature for my degrees that I leaned more on the comforts of stories in my favourite fandoms like Lord of the Rings (and the extended arenas provided by The Silmarillion and The Hobbit). Others were the hundreds of anime I have watched, BBC's Sherlock is second to LOTR, the Marvel universe and the few bits that exist of some of my favourite fantasy series like Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, or the Discworld. I lean toward quality fiction, often the novella or novel length sort and though I will admit to reading well-written fiction that goes AU (Alternate Universe) or pairs up non-canon characters, I prefer the stories to be as close to canon as possible. 

All that said, I am left with the unanswered questions of whether all this reading of published literature and lurking in fandom fanfic sites and forums is doing me any benefit? I have had people say if I enjoy it, then it is not a waste. But what if I have the niggling feeling I should be accomplishing something more "useful"? What constitutes as something "useful"? 

High school report card? I don't care now. Gandalf and Bilbo though...

This whole blog was a hard thing to start as past blogs I have played around with and eventually deleted were role-plays (RP's) of my original characters or my original universe. I always considered blabbing on blogs about my personal thoughts to be a waste and it probably is. However, I am done making excuses like that which ultimately return to the root known as Fear. I'll blab on here probably more than one should for a blog. I am also probably breaking all the rules of what constitutes the instant-success blog. Nonetheless, the one thing I have learned by all my reading is that, at skeleton, at heart, all stories are the same. They are all about individuals making mistakes and facing the consequences of those mistakes. The mistakes vary their impact, they vary in bad and good consequences, they vary in how the characters react and interact according to those mistakes but ultimately, the farm boy doesn't get the sword without leaving his village, the mystery doesn't get solved until the detective starts asking questions; nothing of note happens until the protagonist starts to move.

So with all that I will leave you with some simple but important words from my favourite anime/manga of all time:

Lover of Long Walks,

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