I would say close your eyes but then you couldn’t see what you were reading, so let’s just pretend we are reading a book. I want you to picture that you are on a tropical island in the middle of nowhere. You are laying flat in the sand but it’s early enough in the day that the sun hasn’t warmed it too much. Twenty feet behind you is lush rain-forest as far as your eyes can see, and on either side of you is sandy beach that surrounds the edge of the island. You stretch out your hand and grab some sand, letting it slowly leak through your fingers back onto the ground. As you pick up another handful the warmth and smoothness of the sand feels relaxing and refreshing. Now look to your side and see a snake slithering straight towards you and jump up to run the opposite direction. As you are running a man in a loincloth runs out from the brush and throws his hatchet at the large snake, stopping it instantly. The man then picks up the snake and heads back into the trees.
Can I ask you some questions? Were you able to visualize as you read? Were you able to picture yourself on the island? Which hand did you see yourself grabbing the sand with? Which side of you did you see the snake? Did you feel relaxed by the sand and then scared by the snake? Could you not only visualize the scene, but feel your actual presence there?
I always say “a good book is one that sucks you in,” but what does that really mean? Although short and to the point, I purposely left some details out of the above little story. I didn’t say which hand you pick up the sand with, or which side you see the snake on. I could have, but I wanted to see if your imagination would work on its own. The snake was purely added for a fear factor. If you had seen a snake in real life how would you react?
In talking with people I’ve learned that there are several different types of readers. Some people can open a book and are able to block out the world and get sucked in as if the story is unfolding before their very eyes. Some people are able to stand at arms-length and see what’s happening, but not feel effected by it. Some people can read the words and remember what they are reading but have very little imagery in their mind. Some read to escape reality, while others read in search of it.
Have you ever cried while watching a movie? I recently read a post that suggested that people who cry during movies are actually stronger people with a more advanced sense of empathy. They can put themselves in the scenes and actually feel compassion for the characters they see on-screen. I myself am guilty of this. I am also guilty of crying while reading a book (along with laughing out loud, gasping, rolling my eyes, and more). Yet while a movie is generally between 90 and 120 minutes, a book can take you several hours. That’s more hours of visualizing what’s on the page and letting your imagination go to work to fill in the blank spaces that the author hasn’t filled in.
So why am I talking about this? It’s important to make good choices about the books you read. Also, people have different levels of emotional tolerance for what they read. One person may see a snake and head for the hills (me first), while another may find humor in watching someone else run from that same snake. Not everyone gets the same image in their mind of what they are reading. Some people enjoy relaxing, lighthearted reads (like the hand in the sand), while others prefer the suspense (like being chased by the snake). It’s not to say that either is right or wrong, but rather identifying their preferences. Some people can read almost anything, while others have more specific likes. That’s OK!
I also write this post to try and explain my “age appropriateness” section that I have added to each of my reviews. I try to lean on the side of caution as to what books are appropriate for different age groups. I myself was one of the kids that read more adult books at a young age with exception to adult romance. My own personal preference has never liked very graphic novels because I am one of those major visualizers and am not ashamed to admit that I can get nightmares. There are some books that I would recommend to one 13-year-old but wouldn’t to another based on several factors like maturity, reading level, and how “into” books they get. I admit that makes it a bit harder to make a blanket statement as to which ages I believe should read a particular book. It is the reason why I try to share some additional details to explain my reasoning as well as encourage parents to be active in knowing what their kids are reading. The content that different parents are OK/not OK with their kids reading is understandably not all the same. I also know that not all parents read a lot and/or have similar preferences as their kids, so this blog is also hopefully something that can help them to determine if they are okay with their child reading a particular book or maybe even help them look for some good recommendations.
I hope this was a helpful post for you to read. I encourage you to leave a comment and follow if you haven’t already. If you have any book requests please feel free to contact me. There are many books I have read that are not reviewed on here, so I may or may not have already read it. I hope to be as helpful as I can!