Show me someone among us who has not spent a guilty afternoon binge-watching TV and mainlining Cheetos, and I will show you a liar. No matter how much we like to feed our brains and stimulate our senses (read: the aforementioned Cheetos), sometimes we must needs take a vegetation-vacation. And parking it in front of ye olde boob tube is the perfect way to achieve to maximum brain-sleep with minimum actual effort.
It’s a doubly big temptation, because over the years TV has gone from being home to low-rent entertainment wherein cops chase robbers, to a place where thoughtful, cinematic storytelling thrives. But for all its charms, TV will never be books. Here are 7 ways that books are better than TV:
1. A Book Is Unique. Sure, every person who picks up a copy of the same book is going to read the same plot, but thanks to the powers of our respective imaginations, while I might picture purple trees, you might picture gray. While I might picture Michael Keaton as the leading man, you might picture Gerard Butler. When you read, you engage with your inner life in a way you can’t with television.
2. A Book Can REALLY be Paused. In theory, a TV show can be paused, provided you’ve got a DVR or watch everything on your laptop. But you can put down a book whenever you want, and you don’t need a special box to do it. You don’t have to stay up all night in fear of missing something (though some of us do anyway), because come morning, you can pick right back up where you left off.
3. A Book Has No Reruns—Unless You Want Them. When you pick up a new book, you never have to hold your breath and keep your fingers crossed that it isn’t a book you’ve already read. You’re always guaranteed a new adventure—unless you want to revisit your favorite story, in which case, it’s just as easy and far less full of commercials.
4. A Book Is Always 3D, Without The Hassle of Glasses. I don’t know about you, but as a person who wears glasses, nothing is more irritating than having to precariously perch a pair of fancy-schmancy 3D specs on top of them. Guess what doesn’t require 3D glasses for an all-encompassing experience? A book, y’all.
5. Like Red Bull, a Book Gives You Wings. In the immortal words of the Reading Rainbow theme song, “butterfly in the sky, I go fly twice as hiiiiigh!” But reading doesn’t just to take you to places you might not go (like SPACE!), it also starts conversations with strangers who, seeing what you’re reading, might become friends. I’ve struck up more conversations with groovy, reading strangers than with any other people. And if you’ve got a book handy, you’re never alone. Want to try out that new restaurant but all yours peeps are busy? Take your newest book, order it fries, and then don’t share those fries! This is a party.
6. A Book Is A Secret Language. You may not be able to judge a book by its cover (debatable), but I’ve judged more than my fair share of folks based on what they’ve read. I knew one of my “bosom companions” was going to be just that when she used the phrase…”bosom companion.” Lucy Maude Montgomery for life, you guys.
7. A Book Is Meant To End. Even the best TV shows get worse and worse, as they go on and on. TV shows are designed to fight against their own inevitable ends by their very nature. A book begins with a story to tell, and ends once it’s through. Even if the story is epic enough that it extends A Song of Ice and Fire–style, every author comes to you with a beginning, a middle, and a reassuring end.
What do you like the most about reading versus watching TV?