When I am really into a novel, I’m seeing the world differently during that time – not just for the hour or so in the day when I get to read. I’m actually walking around in a bit of a haze, spellbound by the book and looking at everything through a different prism.Colin Firth
Well, I’ll admit I have been looking for an excuse to use this quote for a while. Who doesn’t want an excuse to have Colin Firth appear in their post – haha? The ultimate Mr Darcy in my humble opinion. Mixed with the intensity of being absorbed by a book – heaven. I’ve gone off track a little….
Anyway, whilst the above quote is banded about the internet quite a bit (why not, it’s a great quote promoting books) the follow-up quote is often forgotten or missed entirely, yet for me, it is actually far more interesting.
I’m paraphrasing terribly from a theory I came across years ago, but there was this idea that everyone leads a kind of secret life. All of these things are going on around us that we don’t process consciously but that stay with us. There’s a school of thought that inanimate objects can make you feel certain things and you don’t know why. You pick up a green mug and you drink coffee out of it and you’re not thinking about anything except whether the coffee is good or bad. About an hour later, you feel depressed and you don’t know why. Perhaps the mug is exactly the same color as your grandmother’s. You’re aware of the emotion but you didn’t know your subconscious went through a whole thing—remembered something, relived something, and fed it back to you.Colin Firth
So a book can pull out responses that would be dormant otherwise. I find that a very valuable thing to have as a possibility. I’m not simply responding to the author’s vision. The joy I take from a book is mine. It comes from me.
What an amazing intriguing theory and I have been thinking about it all day (no not Colin, his quote, honest). I have favourite mugs, despite a cupboard full of beautiful cups, I do have a couple that are favourites for no particular reason.
Stepping away from mugs for the moment and going back to books, there are certainly books that I have read recently that have entranced me and left me questioning things afterwards. For example, I recently read Anti-social by Nick Pettigrew, which certainly increased my sympathy for those suffering from mental health and poverty and increased my awareness of those who supported them.
Only a few days after reading this book, I found myself in A&E for a seven hour-plus wait. In the waiting room appeared an elderly gentleman and a younger woman. Initially, they drew little attention, however after an hour or two the woman appeared frantic, guards were called, the police arrived. The man had disappeared, it turned out he had run off as he didn’t want his bloods taken. The young woman (who most would probably assume was a daughter) was in fact a caseworker assigned to him. Not only was she terrified that he had run off, she was also aware she would at some point be finishing her shift and wanted to know he was settled and okay before leaving. Upon the police finding the man and returning him, he wasn’t particularly helpful to the nurses, and continued to go to the male toilets repeatedly every 15 minutes, often staying in for large amounts of time, for no other reason than he knew she couldn’t go in there. I’m not saying without this book I wouldn’t have been sympathetic to the pair, but the book certainly increased my understanding of just how difficult a job that woman had to do and how lucky that man was she was there and genuinely seemed to care for him, I imagine with many others he would just be a case on a spreadsheet waiting to be closed off.
Mental health will always be a challenge, but I do think books like this that touch us, inspire us and live with us long after reading can really help remind us of our human capacity to care for others. I truly hope the right people at the right levels of society can also read and be inspired by such books and influence a better brighter future.
What about you? Have you read any books lately that have completely absorbed you? If so, I’d love to hear about them.