Arts & Entertainment

Lost in a good book

I’m quite the escapist.

The way I see it, reality is mundane on many levels and escaping into the magical world of fantasy books is one of the best ways liven up my life. Fantasy books have worlds that are similar to mine and yet each and every character exists on a plane that’s so much more acute, sensitive and colourful.

Over the lunar new year, I was immersed in Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. Not the most auspicious book, I grant you, but Bod’s world of ghosts and ghouls and werewolves and Jacks is so wonderful and suspenseful that I can’t help but see the graveyards in a different light. I’ve following Gaiman’s tweets and found out through his posting that he’s recently won the Newbery prize. His humorous and somewhat childlike excitement makes me see how and why this man can conceive such fantastic reads.

Against my own judgement, I racked up a $120 bill at Borders last weekend and promptly devoured the remaining three books from the Twilight saga. That’s right – three thick tomes of vampire lore (with great covers, I must admit) kept me company over one weekend. They were constantly on my mind, even when I was picking out lights for east end.

I still don’t think that Stephenie Meyer is a good writer. The dialogue is needlessly long and obvious, the characters a little too two-dimensional. But as a colleague pointed out, it’s hard not to be drawn into their world. Laugh at me if you will (my cousins certainly did!) but it’s just such a fascinating existence to imagine that my immensely active brain enjoyed the process of conjuring the different scenes and backdrops. Doubtless, it helps that visions of Catherine Hardwicke’s Twilight blends so seamlessly into my own interpretation, and that Kristen Stewart’s Bella is exactly how I imagine Bella to be. (I’m still in two minds about Robert Pattinson’s Edward but boy, is he musically inclined or what. I’ve got the song he contributed to the Twilight soundtrack on repeat mode.)

I like imagination and I like the pictures that pop up in my head. I like going on these visual journeys to a world that’s so faraway from mine and that’s why I love reading so much. Although I appreciate how words roll about in my mind, appreciate the beautiful ways they are strung and structured, appreciate the emotions they evoke in me, my favourite part of reading is still how easily and effortlessly I can transcend my world into the realities of fiction. I may never be as accomplished a writer as these authors but at least I can still share the imaginary worlds that they live in.

Next up on my list are The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, Ali Smith’s The Accidental, Douglas Coupland’s Eleanor Rigby and Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. The next two weeks, barring my trip to Taipei, will be full of literary satisfaction.

(Note to self: remember to pack for the big move)