Reading keeps your mind imaginative, alert

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 3, 2006

I have always found the library to be a fascinating place and, if time allowed, would gladly waste my afternoons away on a couch with a book in hand.

I suppose that's what makes places like Barnes and Noble so popular; the couches and comfortable chairs and the ever present smell of coffee brewing nearby.

I also suppose that when so-and-so approached so-and-so about a bookstore chain offering free seats and treats, the first so-and-so was thought to be insane. People would simply enter the store, read all the magazines, newspapers, thin novels and such, and leave without paying a dime, the second so-and-so said. A bookstore is a place to buy books, he thought. Not a library.

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Yet Barnes and Noble continues to thrive, eating away at a market once dominated by the smaller book shop encountered in malls across the country. Those smaller bookshops were probably the first place I jetted off to when my mother took me to a mall in Montgomery. Had there been a Barnes and Noble, complete with pastries and soda and tables to kick your feet up on, I would have been in hog heaven.

It saddens me these days to see so few children or teenagers picking up a book to read just for the fun of it. Usually, when a student is found with a novel in their bedrooms it's because their teachers required it of them. Most of their time is spent occupied in front of a television, either with an video game controller in hand, or watching the newest show or DVD.

Please don't get me wrong. I love my X-Box and my movies and even enjoy Paris and Nicole's &#8220Simple Life” reality show, God help me. I like &#8220American Idol” and I've currently started watching the first season of &#8220The Sopranos” on DVD.

But a book, dear children, that is where it's at.

My point: How often is it said that a Hollywood movie based on a bestselling novel is never as good as the book? The reason? Because you place some much of an emotional investment into the pages and characters of a 400 or 500-page novel. A two-hour facsimile on a television or movie screen gives you none of that. And while you may offer up a few obligatory tears at the ending, you haven't really grown as a person or learned much of anything.

When asked if he'd seen Peter Jackson's adaptation of &#8220The Lord of the Rings” one of my English professors balked at ever seeing it. When asked why, he simply replied, &#8220because it would ruin the book for me.”

And although I liked the three films, he was right. I had my own mental picture of what all the characters looked like and now I can't get that annoying little digital creature that played Gollum out of my head.

Reading keeps your mind alive, alert and imaginative. I've always been a reader and I hope you are to.

Kevin Pearcey is Group Managing Editor of Greenville Newspapers, LLC. He can be reached by phone at 383-9302, ext. 136 or by email at: