Books, Pop Culture

I’ll take reading over binge-watching any day, and I don’t feel bad about it

If you ask me if I've seen a particular show or movie, I'll probably say no, and go back to reading.

Television used to be my thing when I was a kid, don’t get me wrong.  I saw movies with my friends pretty often in high school, too.  But books always played a huge role in my life.  My parents instilled a love of and appreciation for reading at an early age, so I spent a good amount of time being a bookworm before I got to college.

In the last few years, I’ve largely ignored the Netflix binge-watching craze – not that there’s anything wrong with that! – and continued to stick with my books.  I occasionally start a series or watch a new show with a friend, but I often have trouble sticking with it because I get busy, sidetracked, or bored.

I’ve learned that movies and TV shows just really aren’t my thing.  At the end of the day, I love the intimacy books provide and the opportunity to create a world in my head as I interpret it from the text.

I am notorious among my friends for blankly staring at them when they quote a prominent character from a well-known show.  When people ask me, “Have you seen …?” my answer is, ninety percent of the time, “No, what’s it about?”

The great thing about being friends with me is that you never have to worry about spoiler alerts, because surprise, I’m probably never going to watch it anyway. Go ahead and talk about all the wild plot twists in Game of Thrones all you want.

I’ve always found books and reading to be an escape.  A good book haunts you; it never leaves you.  A good book draws you in and makes you forget where you are and what time and space you’re living in.  A good book brings out empathy, anger, sadness, and love.

I’ve seen great movies and TV shows, but I’ve never seen one that gives me such an intimate journey with the characters as a book does.  From Toni Morrison’s Beloved to Nella Larsen’s Passing to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I’ve found myself experiencing the characters and their burdens, hopes, and lives in a way I can’t grasp from a television show.  Sandra Cisneros has me praying Cleofilas will find a way out of her abusive situation in Woman Hollering Creek and I’m pissed and laughing right along with Junior in Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Words on a page are somehow different to me than words coming from a mouth on a screen.

Books also allow me the creativity to imagine the world the characters live in. It’s a quality I take immense pleasure in.  In movies and TV shows, the setting has been interpreted and designed by someone else.

But with books, I get to use the descriptions to create my own universe and my own understanding of the characters and their surroundings.  Maybe the protagonist is a short woman with choppy brown hair and grey eyes and decorates her whole house in the color red.  The beauty is that every person who reads her description will interpret her and her house differently.  We will all have a different image of her body, her hair, her clothes, her home, her decorations, and her life.

To all the movie-lovers, Netflix and Hulu binge-watchers, and those deeply intrigued with film, do your thing!

Maybe one day I will have the time and the attention span to get into and explore your art.  For now though, my home is with books.

When I want to disappear, I read.  When I’m feeling down or distressed, I read.   When I want to educate myself on a pressing social issue, I read.  When I want to find inspiration from powerful women, I read.

As long as I am feeling any type of emotion, whether it be internal conflict or elation, I’ll be reading.