It's been a year since Hurricane Ike barreled through Texas, knocking out power to over 2 million people and causing billions of dollars worth of property damage in Harris County. Except for the inconvenience of living without electricity for awhile, I and almost everyone I know were very fortunate, and made it through Ike relatively unscathed. Spending the day before landfall immersed in utter dread turned out to be the worst part of my hurricane experience. Why is it then, that I have absolutely no problem immersing myself in a book with disaster at its core, where doom is imminent?
Depending on how believable it is, a story where calamity looms can trigger unconscious, automatic, and visceral responses. The fight or flight reaction insured our survival in primitive times. Adrenaline flows. Your body tenses, heart races, and senses are heightened. It's no wonder we enjoy books that allow us to savor a dose of primal excitement, without the hassle of having to deal with an authentic menace.
Go ahead and confront a compelling book. Your primordial brain will thank you.
Image courtesy of Markusram