I talk a lot about books ability to shape the mind, and the special place that books hold today’s media because of their ability to engulf the reader like no other medium is able to. Maybe is just me but I get far more engrossed in a book than I ever do a movie, but this is a double edged sword because while I’ve never been scared by movie I’ve read more than one book that is left me mentally scarred, utterly disturbed, and kept me up at night. These are some of the most disturbing books I’ve ever read.
House of leaves. This is by far one of the most creative and simultaneously disturbing books I have ever read. It is enjoyable and one of the most different and novel books I’ve ever read, but when the horrifying events start to happen, they jump right out of the page and into my brain.
1984 by George Orwell. Were it not for the name of the novel, you might think this book was written today about the current British government and the society in which individual privacy is valued at far less than it ever was previously. This book changed the way I looked at my government, and drastically shifted the way I looked at the world around me. Whether or not to change with the better remains to be seen.
The catcher in the Rye. As sad as it is to me to admit this, this book will literally changed me more than any other book ever simply because I was told by a few people that I reminded them of the main character. After I sat down and read the book I realised Petty and whiny I was coming off to everyone else. After I finished reading the catcher in the Rye I was forced to take a good long hard look at myself and literally change who I was. This one was intimately disturbing to me.
Books have a very special place in this world. They are the keepers of knowledge, the only hope the next generation. But they also have the ability to tell us a story about anything you can possibly imagine, to take us to distant worlds or time travelled to the past or the possible future. But it seems to me that lately books are taking a back step to the new forms of media like video games and movies. Driving past the school at lunchtime is rare to see a child reading a book, but I can be dammed sure to see one with a mobile phone or a Game Boy. Which got me to thinking is this necessarily a bad thing.
Part of me wants to rage and rile at the next generation the spending so much time on the Internet or playing video games. Tradition dictates that they should be outside the building a fort or playing sport of some kind, but is this really true? I remember when I was small I used to sit in front of the television every Saturday morning and watch the cartoons. Without fail whenever Mum or dad saw me doing this they would say you should be outside playing games or doing something physical. But look at me now, I hate television, it has almost no redeeming qualities and I spent almost all my time reading both fiction and non-fiction books. My grandmother also tells a story of how when she was little and she used to sit inside either fire reading books her mother used to come in and tell her that she should be outside being physical, and getting some exercise.
So to me it seems like the only constant thing about parenting over the last few centuries, his parents trying to get their children out of the house as much as is possible. And as a new parent I can completely and utterly confirm this. I am perpetually tired and as much as I love them, whenever my kids are inside it is impossible to take a nap or get anything constructive done.
So the next time you hear someone tell their kids to stop playing a damn video game go and do something constructive, think of my grandmother who was told stop reading books and go and do something constructive.