“You’re also finding out something as you read vitally important for making your way in the world. And it’s this: The world doesn’t have to be like this. Things can be different.” – Neil Gaiman’s lecture to The Reading Agency 10/14/2013
When I was a child, maybe ten or twelve, my mother worried that I read too much, and that the books I read were somehow damaging my sense of reality. I told her I wanted to travel. I wanted to see the world. I wanted exciting things to happen. And they did, every day, in the pages of my books. I would argue that it is impossible to read too much but she was probably right about my sense of reality.
Real life simply isn’t good enough. I want to change it. I want to make it better.
Those stories gave me permission to dream. They taught me how to imagine and how to hope. And they also taught me how to face the world, how to empathize with others. I learned that I could face terrible challenges and come out stronger on the other side.
Books made my world richer, deeper, broader. I believe (really and truly and to the depths of my soul) that they made me a better person.
You too can become a better person. You can escape from whatever troubling, bewildering, or painful situation you find yourself in. You can learn to change the world.
All you have to do is pick up a book–and open it.