I don’t remember learning two things: reading and swimming. My entire life I’ve just always known how to swim and how to read. Being able to read and swim is a part of who I am and I thankful to my parents for exposing me to both very early.  My mother would often tell me stories of how when she would take my sister and I about town, we always carried books with us. My dad always carries books, textbooks/engineering manuals really, everywhere he goes, so my love of books comes honestly from my own desire for story and partly a learned habit.

So why do I love books? The ability to lose myself in story, plain and simple. I’m currently reading Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon, which is set in ancient mythological China. I get to explore the world that Pon has created, feel the excitement, wonder and fear of the main character Ai Ling. I get to picture fantastical landscapes in my head, eat foreign food, learn different beliefs, values all through Pon’s exquisite storytelling. I don’t have the money to visit China, but I can get there through storytelling.

I’ve travelled to different countries, time periods, even different worlds through storytelling. I’ve had my heartbroken, been angry, cried, laughed, been uplifted and inspired through storytelling. I’ve learned history, about different religions, cultures all through storytelling. Where else would I be able to immerse myself in someplace other than my own without the magic of an author’s words? I may be sitting on my couch, laying in bed, by the pool, but time will drift by because my mind will be on some amazing adventure. I will be wherever the author chooses to take me.

There is no other feeling in the world like getting lost in a book. It’s thrilling and addictive. In fact, let me see what Ai Ling is up to.

Addition: Originally posted at LitStack’s Staff Pick of the Week on 8/1. Also, after I wrote this article, I finished reading Silver Phoenix, and then read it’s sequel, Fury of the Phoenix. I’m taking a reading break to finish writing an article and book review, but the next novel, Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, is hanging out in my purse waiting to be read. I did read the prologue and I’m intrigued.

Also, further evidence of my book reading addiction – since school/MFA residency ended at the end of June, I have read 8 books. 8 books in one month – that’s a serious addiction, ya’ll.