Finding Yourself in a Book by Alison Bruce

Is there anything more satisfying than losing yourself in a book? The characters come alive. You can picture the setting. It has texture and atmosphere and sometimes smell.

A good movie or series will do that too, but they don't belong to you the way a book does. Character casting, set decoration and special effects are done by someone else. In a book, it's all between you and the author.

Lately I've been giving some thought to how books change us. More accurately, I've been thinking about how the books we choose to read reflect who we are, enhance us and effect how we see ourselves.

There have been studies done on this. (See more on this on my blog.) Data has been gathered to suggest we not only are what we read, but become more like what we read. I've experienced this first hand.

My friends and family always know what I've been reading or watching because of the way I talk and act. I develop a drawl when I'm reading or writing westerns. My vocabulary regresses a 150 years. Talk to me after a Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon and I start turning nouns into verbs and get jiggy with the pop culture reference. More than that, I start accessing my inner slayer. The slayer is a handy persona to have around when the going gets tough.

Reading Harry Potter brings out my inner wizard. As a parent I'm at odds with sending my children away to school, but my inner child would love to be attend Hogwarts. I can't see myself as Harry, Ron or Hermione. When I enter that world I feel like I'm experiencing it through a pensieve. (For you Muggles, a pensieve is a magical device for watching stored memories.)

I've noticed that when I'm in a Hogwarts frame of mind, I often say minor spells especially: "Accio coffee!"

My Discworld binges are the most amusing to my kids. It's "crivens" this and "crivens" that. When I do something idiotic, I call myself a "daft besom" (which is slang for silly woman). Sometimes I channel Nanny Ogg (earthy). Other times I feel more Granny Weatherwax (sharp) or Sam Vimes (cynical but determined to protect and serve anyway).

The characters speak to me. For better or worse, I find something of myself in them. When I admire those traits, the book acts as a booster shot to my better nature.

Or it just fuels my imagination.


  1. Really interesting, Ali! I don't actually do this, as far as I know. Love the new art :)


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