I saw this exchange posted a while back on Pinterest and it made me smile. I’m almost certain that anyone who has ever gotten any enjoyment out of a story has had this experience. As I wrote a while back, the characters we read about often become our friends while we’re following their journeys and struggles. And, like any relationship, this can evoke strong emotions and have a profound effect on us.
But as common as this experience might be, it is rather odd, isn’t it? I mean, they’re just characters, after all, aren’t they? Why do they impact us so, sometimes long after the story is over? I think it is in part because reading a book requires more active participation on our part. We have to use our imagination for the book to really work. It’s the fuel that powers the engine. And because we’re involved in this process, we get drawn in to what we’re reading. We start to have a stake in what’s happening; it becomes personal.
Another factor is the amount of time we must invest to read a book. I’m not sure what the average rate of reading is but even a one hundred or two hundred page novel represents a significant amount of time invested into a story. And it’s a fact of human nature that time pulls at our affections. The longer we spend doing something, the more our heart warms to it.
So whether it’s anger or fear, heartache or joy, tears or laughter, I say let the nonfictional feelings come. And, if you pay close attention, you may just notice that your hand trembles ever so slightly with anticipation the next time you reach for a book to read.