For all of you book lovers out there, you will understand what I mean when I talk about being so absorbed in a book that you literally forget the “real” world is around you (although the physical world can often be less real than a books’s fabrication). Outside noises cease to penetrate your ears, you are completely sucked into the realm of your book. You experience the landscape the author has painted (that is, if you’re reading a decent author), you experience the emotions the protagonist feels (ever felt icy water running down your scalp, neck and back when your favourite person was killed? Ever known a book character more than you know real some flesh-and-bone people?). You live two lives while you’re reading that book.
It’s really a beautiful thing, to be completely engrossed in a book, because you’re actually inside the author’s mind. You’re sharing a reality. However, it is a fragile state to be in that must be treated carefully. Like waiting for a memory stick to ‘eject’ before you rip it out of the USB slot. Waiting for your pizza to fully cook before taking it out of the oven. I could have a bonanza with these metaphors but I’ll stop here, you understand the concept.
Today, I went to Centrelink. Being a regular Centrelink-goer (student, so I have an excuse), I know that the waiting times can take so long that there could be hover-boards and crazy old professors from the past when I step from the air-conditioned dimension of Centrelink onto the pavement of reality. Therefore, I always bring a good book to pass the time. As you may know, I’m reading Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, which is proving to be extremely addictive. So, I settled comfortably into my suspiciously-stained chair, and forgot about everything but the twisted world of Nabokov’s mind. After an amount of time I’m unsure of, as my brain was in a small American town and not a Centrelink waiting room, my name was called. I stumbled upwards from my chair, and unsteadily followed a rotund lady to her desk.
“So what can I help you with?” she inquired, fingers poised on the keyboard.
I was a half-born baby, torn in the space between two worlds as I attempted to answer her coherently.
“I…my rent assistance isn’t working…I sent a letter and put a letter inside…I filled out the form…I sent it in…”. I’m not exaggerating. My sentence was as bad as that.
After I mentally shook myself, and exited the bedroom I was sitting in seconds ago with the paedophile Humbert Humbert, I was able to think normally. I still felt a little vulnerable, weak from the shock of being transported violently between two worlds. But I finished my transaction valiantly, and strode outside like a warrior returning from battle.
So my advice to you, dear reader, is to read your books at home, in the safety of your bed with a hot water bottle and cup of tea, and with the door heavily padlocked and your iPhone smashed to pieces, so you can enjoy your book in peace.