A Dare from the Author You May Never Care to Read

Something that came to mind, as I searched for the perfect book to buy with a gift certificate.
Difficult life choices, man.
I'm sure you understand.

I Dare You

Non-readers don't understand why I tremble at the sight of a bookshelf, filled with old, dusty books. They don't understand why I run up to these books and pull one from the shelf and sniff it like it's my drug and I'm its addict.

They don't understand why it takes me four hours to spend a $50 gift certificate at Barnes and Noble, like my entire life hinges on whether or not I buy the right books.

They don't understand that, in a way, my life actually does hinge on the books I buy, because I am a Reader - a real Reader - and internalize everything I read, letting it change me in some way, shape, or form (whether I want it to or not).

They don't understand why I don't feel alone when my nose is in a book, because it doesn't matter how many people have forsaken me in my own life...the characters I read are my friends, and they get me.

They don't understand why I prefer dead authors to some living humans.

So if you're not a reader, I dare you. I dare you to walk into a bookstore and run your fingers along the spines of the books on the shelves, and I dare you to recognize that for every single book you touch, there is an author who poured his or her heart and soul into the masterpiece you so breezily pass by.

I dare you to open up an ages-old book and inhale its heady, ancient scent, and I dare you to wonder about all the hands who held this book before you did. The hands of children. The hands of adults. The hands of soldiers. The hands of lovers. The hands that held that book might have gently caressed someone's neck...or choked the life from it.

I dare you to read one paragraph - even one page, if you dare - of a book and imagine how the author practically cut him- or herself open to spill a part of his or her soul onto the pages, in an attempt to make a book worth reading.

I dare you to flip through the pages of a 1,000-page novel and calculate how many hours - how many days, or months, or even years - the author spent, slaving over each and every word, sculpting each and every sentence...each and every word that added up to make sentences that added up to make paragraphs that added up to make just one of the pages you so casually thumb through.

I dare you to look up names like Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf and Edgar Allen Poe and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, writers who dealt with monsters, writers who were more vulnerable than you could ever know, unless you read the works of their souls...

I dare you to take a book into an empty room and lie down, eyes closed, because I can almost swear that you'll hear the author whispering into your ear.

I dare you. I dare you, because I am an author, and I can promise you it'll be worth it.

The End

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