To me a book is not an escape. The story I read in a novel meets, in my mind, the experiences of my own life, and something substantial forms. When I read I am with another person more closely than anyone else. I believe in these characters, yet I also understand thatb they do not exist. I am at once alone and in close company: this is the great gift of a novel, the element that makes reading more than a solitary pastime. I sit within another's person. Far from being an escape from life, reading helps me to live life more deeply.