Every summer around mid-July for the last few years, a new book from my favorite series has been released. This is the week of the new release. I have been waiting for this novel since I turned the last page of the previous book one summer ago. I read that one in a day. I even considered taking a day off of work to read this new novel. Honestly, nothing or no one else exists when I have my new novel.
In my anticipation for the release, I started thinking about other novels that I have gotten this excited for in the past. Honestly, the only series that comes to mind is Harry Potter. I mean, if anyone reads, they know how amazing the Harry Potter series is. Many people argue that only true fans read the books and that watching movies and going to the theme parks do not make you a fan. It’s incredible! But what makes anyone passionate about books? What keeps them coming back for more? What makes them dig deeper into parts of the story that weren’t written? Why would someone be willing to take a vacation day for a book?
What’s in a Book?
When it comes to physically reading a book, there are those that would rather flip the pages of printed material and those that find it easier to look at the screen of a device and swipe the virtual pages. Personally, I prefer taking off the dust jacket, opening the book, and flipping each page as I go deeper into the story. There is nothing like it. But it’s not the act of reading a book that I enjoy. If that were the case, reading those textbooks in college would have been a much better experience. My grades would have been better too!
When you read a book, you become part of the story. Sometimes you forget who you are! The emotions of the characters become your emotions. Your heartbeat races when you foresee danger before the character. A lot of times you also cry or at least feel saddened when there is a tragedy. Maybe you even scream in frustration when a character stubbornly places himself or herself in a tough situation, or when you know one decision should have gone another way. Maybe you’re frustrated with Harry because he’s racing off to do what he thinks is noble when he’s actually being set up in a trap. (Sorry, I had a flashback to “The Order of the Phoenix”).
The point is, you keep coming back because you become a part of the story, even though you weren’t written into the story, and the story becomes a part of you. You want more because you want to know more about the lives of the characters. You want to continue watching them grow and change. Their lives often become real. The effects of finishing a novel can often be worse than watching the last episode of a Netflix series binge watch. You need time after the ending to process the events, return to reality, and maybe even adjust your emotions.
A book can inspire you, it can teach you, and it can grab your soul. It becomes personal and reaches each person in different ways. Even in the classroom, it is interesting to see how each student receives a story and processes its characters and events differently. It can be an insightful experience for teachers because of the different ways students relate and react to stories. Students can share how a story or a character speaks to them. It also presents creative opportunities to explore novels, such as problem-solving for characters, rewriting the plots and predicting different outcomes, developing experiments related to the stories, or role playing different scenes. Through any of these strategies and more, teaching can become the responsibility of the students. With books, the possibilities are endless!
I am very curious to know why people become loyal followers of a book series and what those series are. As readers, we have a responsibility to share our experiences and books with others. I will probably stay up all night and then the next night going on another adventure. Because that’s what reading is, an adventure. What do you look forward to reading?