A well-worn philosophical thought experiment asks, “If a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?” Plain logic tells us such an event certainly creates sound waves. However, if there is no ear drum, human or otherwise, upon which those waves can pound, does the tree-falling event really happen?
Yet, while a tree falling in the forest may be said to happen without an observer, I would argue a book without a reader is suffering an existential crisis of the first order. Though a tree does not exist, nor does it fall, for the sake of an observer (observing a tree is certainly a privilege), a book is incomplete until it has found at least one reader. Readers are to books what the ear is to music, the ass is to rhythm, and the eye to the DaVinci. Books are only a glory when their magic is allowed to flicker in the hearts and minds of readers. A book without a reader is an idea, as ephemeral as a ghost, or worse, a paper-weight.
Granted a reader, a book awakens and its story becomes flesh and bone, it is allowed to breathe! When a reader lets the first few words of a story into his heart, a character is aroused from her imposed slumber and she takes a quick breath and is glad, exultant to be alive. Her heart beats and the blood flows in her veins as the words unfold. A smile crosses her face and her eyes light up. She knows the curse of sleep has been broken. She rises and walks across the land. The reader whispers the prose to himself and a breeze winds through the trees as the sun warms the spreading earth.
And when the book is laid aside once more the character returns to sleep reluctantly, desperate in her netherworld until a reader picks up the thread of her story and lets her sun rise again.
The reader is the final, indispensable god in the creation of the story.