Some people just don’t get it

Posted: March 25, 2013 in Books & Reading
Tags: , , ,

I’m sure you guys will, because you’re a lot like me. Avid readers, avid writers, avid TV and movie watchers. Those characters, they’re real. Not in the physical sense, of course. We’re not crazy. But in the sense that we’ve spent time with these people, we  know their stories, we understand their pain, and we want to see them succeed.

That’s what makes them real. In some ways, we know these characters better than some of our friends. There are no walls when you read a book. There are no secrets once you reach the end. You’re like an invisible watcher, able to sit back and see the events in their lives unfold.

So when someone dies, when someone is rescued, when someone succeeds, it’s sad and exciting and thrilling. Those are real emotions that fake characters produce in you. And if the only reason they’re not real is because they don’t exist in this world, then I don’t buy that.

When you know someone that well, when you care about someone that deeply, when you understand their story so much that it inspires you to be a better human being, that person takes shape and they become real to you.

But some people don’t understand that.

I was having a conversation with a certain someone the other day, and she just didn’t understand why I got so emotionally attached to things. We were talking about StarKid and their latest play, A Very Potter Senior Year. For me, and a lot of other StarKid fans, it was an emotional thing to watch. It was the final installment in their Very Potter trilogy. It was hard to watch because it was over, and I knew those characters would never be coming back for something new. I laughed and I cried in equal measures.

This person just looked at me and said, “Why?”

I didn’t bother explaining. If you don’t get it, you never will. If you’re not invested, you won’t understand how incredibly powerful seeing those characters reach the end of their stories is.

Since I know a lot of you aren’t into StarKid, I’ll put it into perspective. It’s like someone asking you why you’re upset that Fred died. Or Dumbledore. Or Sirius.

If those character deaths didn’t bother you, then there’s no point in explaining. It won’t help, and you won’t feel the things we felt.

(And if those character deaths didn’t bother you, by the way, then you’re doing it wrong. So very wrong.)

What I don’t understand is how you could not get invested in stories like this. This person reads for entertainment, which is fine, but I think she misses a huge part of what it is to be a reader. That investment, pain, and joy that comes from living a character’s life through their actions on the page.

I read for a deeper meaning. I read so that book can change my life. I read to forget about the world, to be sure, but also to understand it.

As corny as it sounds, I think reading is a serious business. Not everyone is meant to be a deep reader, but I struggle with the concept of not reading a book for meaning, depth, and understanding. If I didn’t do that, it just…wouldn’t seem worth it.

What do you think? Do you read for entertainment only, or do you want to take something away from what you read? Do you get so deep into the story that you feel like the characters are real people? Do you feel pain or joy when they do?

  1. Love this post! It’s so true that if someone doesn’t get it there is no point in explaining. I personally always seem to attach myself to certain characters. I totally understand what you mean by reading for enjoyment but also having that added element of wanting to take something from it.

  2. ddog13 says:

    If I’m spending time with a TV series, you’d better bet that I’m invested in the characters. House and Touch are two of my favorites, and if I’m tuning in each week, of course I’m connected to the characters/story. But some people don’t get it.

    • Karen Rought says:

      I completely agree. This really happens with me when I marathon a show. It happened with Doctor Who, and that was tough because he’s always changing companions. I love investing all that energy into a story. I love feeling like those characters are real!

  3. Jeyna Grace says:

    They can’t ask why because they can’t even relate to it.

  4. Gloria Weber says:

    “(And if those character deaths didn’t bother you, by the way, then you’re doing it wrong. So very wrong.)”

    YES!!! What you said!

    Anyways, I read trying to make it as much of a “real world” in my mind as possible. I don’t read for hidden meanings or life lessons, though. I think maybe I read it as a real life I try to “empathize” with (for lack of a better term) to take a break from mine.

    • Karen Rought says:

      Ah, yes. That makes sense! I don’t necessarily read FOR those lessons, but I notice them. Some people are just oblivious. They don’t understand how well crafted some stories are, and how they can serve a purpose beyond just their entertainment value, you know? That’s what I think is a shame.

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