Why Books are Living Things

Pixabay image - Arthur Rackham

Pixabay image – Arthur Rackham

In contemplating what to write about today, I’ve decided to go a little off the deep end for the bewilderment of my readers. We writers can be a touch eccentric, and in order to perpetuate the characterization, I thought I’d chat about stuff I don’t know. That’s the fun of fantasy after all.

Those who’ve browsed my website know I love the idea of myths. To me, they’re the stories that define who we are and form the narratives of our lives. In my experience, perceptions alter our reality. We use perceptual narratives to filter our experiences, to guide our decisions, and create meaning in our lives. In essence, who we are, beyond our physical presence, is created based on our values and choices, how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us. In a way, we are the embodiment of stories; our lifetimes expressed in epic myth.

So, where am I going with this? Hang on, I’m getting there. One more piece of information and you’ll see.

While studying for a degree in a pastoral counselor, I took this great class called “The Spirituality of Relationship.” In essence, it described a relationship as a new entity, a created presence with a life of its own that requires nurturing and an investment of time to thrive. The discussion provided a new way of looking at loss posed by divorce. For, although children may retain healthy connections with both parents individually, they grieve the loss of this third presence, the un-tangible creation, the relationship.

Now my point comes together…

I believe, on an energetic level, that books are more than paper and ink or digital symbols. On some level, our creations are new entities with the ability to enter into relationship with others on a personal and emotional level, just as we do. Books and the people who inhabit them can open eyes, stir the heart, elicit a deep sense of longing or grief, outrage or fear. I’ve fallen madly in love with protagonists, profoundly altered the path of my life, made new choices, expanded my understanding of the world, all through my relationships with books. Some have stayed with me since the day I read them, hovering like spirits over my head.

What if, when we create worlds and characters, we create something that exists? How do we know that the myths we fashion in our heads don’t coalesce into something real and measurable? Simply because we lack the brain capacity and technology to perceive and quantify, doesn’t mean something can’t be. History chuckles at the folly of those shortsighted assumptions.

I’m intrigued by paradigms, the perceptual boundaries we cobble together to rationalize our experience. I love the idea of not knowing. I bask in the notion that we scarcely use a fraction of our brains and possess only the tiniest inkling of how the universe works. Our perceptions are so small, so limited, that to me anything is possible.

Other than a photo and a bio (based entirely on my myth of myself) you have no idea whether I’m a real person, right? In a way, I’m a manifestation of our combined imaginations. It’s possible that my characters are just as present in the fiber of creation as I am. I think so. I know them better than I know most people; I’ve interacted with them, lived with them, learned from them, laughed and wept with them. They will likely outlive me too. Cool, huh?

Well, I’m a fantasy writer after all. I can imagine you nodding your head sagely at this bit of information or muttering under your breath, “This woman is three tines short of a fork.”

All I can say is, “Welcome to my world.”

*** This post originally appeared on Chris Graham’s blog: The Story Reading Ape. ❤ ***

175 thoughts on “Why Books are Living Things

  1. It’s an interesting theory, this one. I have been playing with it myself from time to time… Hmmmm… A little story might be starting to evolve in my head right now… Inspiring post, that’s for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was so struck with your thoughts on books as living things, that I wrote a whole blog post discussing them. Here’s the link, if you’re interested:

    https://cafephilos.blog/2017/04/11/a-critique-of-why-books-are-living-things-by-d-wallace-peach/

    Liked by 1 person

  3. […] of Star early this morning when I came across a blog post by the author, D. Wallace Peach, on Why Books are Living Things.  It’s a short, thought-provoking read in which Peach essentially makes three points, and it […]

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fascinating ideas! Thanks so much for posting this!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on Miss LiV Adventures ~A Journey Through Time…and Time Again and commented:
    I have a button that says, ‘Some of my Best Friends are Books.’ I love this article by D. Wallace Peach on books as living things. -KJQ

    Liked by 1 person

  6. […] week I found an article at Myths of the Mirror called Why Books Are Living Things. It raises some intriguing ideas and I strongly encourage you to read it. In it the author states, […]

    Liked by 1 person

  7. MaryAnn says:

    I am not a writer but I am an avid reader. Books have saved my life and have been a light in the darkest of times. Books have taken me to other worlds and possibilities I never imagined. They have encouraged me to look at the world differently and embrace love, adventure, and differences in mankind. They have filled my life with color and to see the different hues in black and white. I can never and do not want to imagine a world without books. It is through the imagination of others that I have seen the world I create for myself. I am excited to now pick up one of your books and read the world(s) you have created from myths!

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a beautiful comment, Maryann. I’m on the same page. I would be a different person without books. I love the George RR Martin quote: “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” Thanks so much for your visit. Have a great day. ❤

      Like

  8. Dr. French has found another winner to send us too. I just finished reading a book at midnight, (couldn’t put it down) that was as read as real can get. It affects our physiology and our thinking so I completely agree. They are living entities. Everything is energy after all. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love finding those amazing books that keep me up at night. My life has also been completely changed by books, both non-fiction and fiction. A wonderful read can’t be unread and we carry the reality with us. Thanks so much for the visit and comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    This is a wonderful post!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. frenchc1955 says:

    Thank you for a beautiful and compelling post!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is beautiful. It also explains, on some level, the feeling of grief we sometimes feel when a story is over… because something which enriched our lives is technically lost. Which is also beautiful, in a terrible way.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I read this already and think I may have already commented here so exhausted apologies…

    I LOVE this post so much. “I believe, on an energetic level, that books are more than paper and ink or digital symbols. On some level, our creations are new entities with the ability to enter into relationship with others on a personal and emotional level…” Yes! That. 💖

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Helen Jones says:

    I love this post, Diana, and completely agree with your idea of books being living things. When a story idea comes to me I can feel it, like a presence in my head that won’t rest until I write it down. If I don’t write it down in time, it goes and it lost. I feel like I’m just a conduit between the idea and the words and, once it goes out into the world, I’ve set it free again.

    😀 Well, if you’re three tines short of a fork, I think I’m there with you 😆

    Liked by 1 person

  14. K'lee L. says:

    Brilliant, Diana. Your words here bring to mind the movie, ‘The Neverending Story’. Like you, I also believe our stories can and do exist beyond our imaginations. Who’s to say? We are!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. With that kind of power all writers should be mindful of what they create. I don’t think you’re short of being a fork. I think this is brilliant and true.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the visit. Yes, we should be careful. I wrote a dark book and was physically sick the entire first draft. I needed to write it and I think its cautionary message is important, but the stress of it definitely affected me. All so interesting, huh? Have a great week with much lightness!

      Liked by 2 people

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