Reading About Something vs Experiencing It

About two weeks ago I finished reading Air Awakens by Elise Kova, and at a certain point in the book there was this scene where the two main characters discussed ‘reading about something’ vs ‘actually experiencing it’. And this scene stayed with me (keep in mind that I read an ARC and some things could be different in the finished copy).

“Your problem is that you rely entirely on books.”

“What’s wrong with books?” She was forced to ask.

He stopped, turning on his heel to stare down at her. “What is wrong with books is that you cannot learn how to really do things from books.” He ignored her open mouth, continuing, “They are starting points for principle, theory, and concept. Your mind understands, but your body does not know until you perform the act yourself. Without action and practice, your hands will not oblige. Experience is a far greater teacher.”

I’m only giving you a glimpse of the scene (the guy is actually kinda being an asshole here, even though what he says holds a lot of truth) and that’s not enough to really put it into context, but whenever I think of Air Awakens this is the scene that I immediately think of. It’s one of my favourite moments in the book and it marks a turning point for the protagonist.

There was a certain point in my life where I realized this too. Back then, for me, books were comfortable. Way more comfortable. Why go to a party when you can read about one? I would rather go home, curl up on the couch with a good book, instead of actually going to a party and making an effort to put myself out there. I was so afraid of putting myself out there that I was content reading about other people’s lives. Because I felt like I experienced it through them. Which is kinda messed up.

“You think and watch, but you never do. You can read all the books in this library, be wiser than the master himself someday, and then you will die having never really done anything. You will have only ever lived through everyone else’s experiences.”

I guess this scene reminds me of the day I realized the truth to this statement. Reading is fun, it is supposed to be fun, but you should never use it as an excuse to not experiencing everything there is to life. I even realized that reading becomes even more fun if you read about something the character is going through when you’ve gone through the same thing at some point!

I guess what I am trying to say here, is that I KNOW putting yourself out there is scary as hell, but don’t ever let that withhold you from experiencing the good, the awkward, the fun, and the maybe-not-so-fun times! Because no book on this earth can teach you better then your own experiences.

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  1. Zaira F
    23/07/2015 / 02:23

    I love this post!! This does happen to me sometimes – I’d choose to just stay home and read. I’ve also learned a lot through books and I have to agree what you’ve quoted – it’s like my mind understands how to do it but I won’t really know for sure unless I actually do it.

  2. 23/07/2015 / 03:38

    I completely agree! I think it can be easy to fall into books and just let them suck up all your time because you get lost in the book. Reading is awesome and I love it, but it’s also just a HOBBY. I would never want to shut out the people around me or miss out on life because I’m too focused on reading that next book. I’m an introvert (mostly), but I think a lot of people use that as an excuse to stay home all the time and not do much of anything but read/watch tv. Maybe ignorance is bliss? There’s just so much to experience and enjoy in life, it’s a shame some people don’t step out of their comfort zones to try something different.

    It also makes me wonder how we judge characters in books. Sometimes I think we’re too harsh on characters when we don’t really know what it’s like to be in their situation and just expect them to be like super woman/man or something…only having the flaws we approve of… :/

    Interesting discussion!

  3. 23/07/2015 / 14:15

    I’m a total homebody so I don’t actually do very much. It’s not that I’m afraid of putting myself out there exactly, it’s just that I’m a homebody and I like it that way.

    I like to think that I’ve done a decent amount in my life because my parents are big on travelling and I’ve gone along with them. I’ve gone on Safaris in Africa, touring in Egypt, beach lounging in Bora Bora, and I even saw the Stromboli volcano erupt. But spending a lot of time out there on adventures isn’t for me. I start craving home and my quiet, ‘boring’ routine pretty quickly.

    There are a lot of things I just don’t like doing. I don’t like parties. I don’t like “hanging out” that much. I guess I’m just a boring person. :P

    However if there is something that you love and think is awesome so you spend all your time reading about it, then sure, you should actually go out there and do it too!

    I think the #1 thing is to follow what you love. If that means sitting around reading all the time, so be it. Just don’t let reading become a SUBSTITUTE for what you actually want to do. For me that isn’t the case. But I’m sure a lot of people spend all their time reading about adventures (or whatever) because they wish they were out having them (even if they don’t realize it).

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