Life without books

I do realise that, quote, we're not all the same, unquote, but when I hear somebody, celebrity (yes I have!) or otherwise apparently boasting that they 'never read books' it hits me right in the solar plexus. I feel so sorry, because so far as I am concerned they might as well be claiming never to look up at the sky or listen to music. In truth I see a life self-disabled.

Reading books, whether fiction or non-fiction, exercises the imagination in ways that no other form of entertainment can. And exercising the imagination is in my opinion as as crucial to human happiness as exercising the body or the mind. True, watching a drama on a screen large or small will do it, but to a much lesser extent. Even the very best films do most of the imagining for you, especially when they use virtual reality a la the recent Harry Potter, Tolkein films. Such vehicles employ not one's own but the creator's - somebody unknown's - imagination.

That is why reading a book is a one on one experience, one's own imagination engaging with the author's, and is capable sometimes of inspiring real life change whereas viewing a film on big screen or TV is seldom if ever going to do so. Proof is not hard to find. The Bible has done it billions of times, so has the Koran. More recently Mein Kampf certainly did it although in a way as destructive as the fictional works of Charles Dickens was constructive, even if more limited. Seen anything on screen lately to compare?

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