By Nichole Giles
The world has gone mad. People shoot other people in shopping malls and schools. Suicidal maniacs threaten to blow themselves to oblivion with homemade explosive devices. Groups of extremists kill themselves and others in attempts to make a violent statement of political protest.
People aren’t even allowed to bring bottled water on an airplane anymore.
Day to day we live, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute, making the best of our personal circumstances. But sometimes the crazy world becomes too much, and we find ourselves utterly distracted, our bodies become completely still; we stare at nothing while we wonder what will happen next.
Then we shake free of our musings and force ourselves to move forward again, one second at a time. We find ourselves longing for an escape from reality as we know it. Some people spend hours and hours and lots of money sitting in dark, sticky-floored movie theaters, one hand in a bucket of popcorn and another on a sweating paper cup, while giant images flash across an enormous screen.
Others prefer a more solitary escape. We pick up a book, one by our favorite, trusted author, and jump into a completely different day. For a little while, we become someone else, worry about something else, and live a different life. Perhaps our book sends us to a tropical island, solving a murder while we struggle to survive. Or maybe we are starting a new life in a new city after a major tragedy. We might even have the opportunity to save the world. Or, we might jump into a whole new world, and meet another species. Friend or foe? We must read on to find out.
Whatever road the plot follows, we jump in headfirst and submerge ourselves in the problems of a fictional character. Is this the only escape from the world we live in right now? The one in which children are no longer allowed to walk home from school because something terrible happened to someone down the street?
For some of us, it is the greatest escape. It is the break from life we use to help us catch our breath. The little nap during a hailstorm of gunfire. The charger that refills our batteries.
Religion helps us cope. It gives us the courage to take whatever comes at us. But fiction is the thing that takes us away and allows us to forget, for just a little while. And when we finish the book, we feel a hint of sadness mixed with satisfaction, like coming home after a great vacation. So, we pick up another book and start another journey. While we read, the world around us keeps on turning. But we emerge recharged, ready to face life in this century.
That, dear readers, is the priceless gift an author gives to readers. And if our author is really generous, kind and giving, maybe we will be able to face turning on the news.