The power of words versus the power of a sword? The former wins out for me, every time. Words have a strength greater than a sword–they can start a war, while swords merely wage it (and in a fittingly ironic twist: words also spell sword in transposed order). Many an afternoon was whiled away in the company of a good read in my youth. I would be transported to other parts of the world, futuristic times, times of periods gone, murder scenes, apocalyptic multi-verses, and alien worlds with not a whit of care for food or drink or even sleep. Even the sunniest of skies would not tempt me to stop the desire to read.
But it was much more than reading words. Each sentence would speak to me until my mind sensed the rightness of every word to spell and mean what it did in the context chosen by the author: yes, a sneeze is written as it should be. A cold would make me reach for a sweater. Blood would leave the taste of iron on my tongue. And even the word food would leave a taste that’s visceral on my tongue.
Sleep would snap at the heels of my consciousness as I often fought to remain wakeful and finish. I was not a speed reader by any means, but a 400-page book with a lively tempo would have my eyes dancing across the pages and my mind itching to know the conclusion in as little as 4 hours. And sometimes, when my impatience got the better of me, I would read a book to the midway point, stop, and then read the final few pages, and then resume from the midway point to see if my conclusions about the end were correct and predictable or not.
The tragedy of character death would possess me as deeply as a real one. The unwelcome and sometimes long lasting impact of horror novels would frighten me enough to wonder about the monsters under the bed when I woke up in the night. I’ve given the powers of my imagination and perception to books to thrill me and chill me, knowing the suspension of my reality is a far greater one than I would ascribe to movies–and even knowing that the latter has spoken dialog and musical score to elevate the multi-sensory experience.