It is so easy to lose oneself in a book and forget reality. Especially if reality sucks.
Since childhood I've found fantasy fiction to be the best hideaway. Maybe this feeling came about after I read Tilsm-e-Hoshruba at age eleven. No matter how crazy everything became around me, here was the answer to all my problems. Not just the story itself but the possibilities the story provided to my imagination. Solitude was no longer scary because I always had imaginary friends, mostly characters from the novel, at my beck and call. I was queen of my realm and my wazir was a deadly cobra who was constantly at my side but invisible to all.
I found similar abandon in some works of Neil Gaiman. Step into Neverwhere, The Graveyard Book, or Stardust and the world ceases to exist. While reading such books dread starts to settle in as I get closer to the final pages. I was gripped with such great fear of reaching the end of A Mirror of Beauty (Shamsur Rehman Faruqi) that I've yet to finish the book. These days I am lost in the world of the Malazan House of the Fallen - a ten volume fantasy fiction saga by Steven Erikson. I'm just starting book six.
Maybe this is an ostrich approach towards life. It is easy to hide behind a paperback and let the world dissolve. To become friends with certain characters of the book and channel all the emotions inside one towards them. Doing so makes it easier for me to let go of my emotions for then I am crying with or for the characters, not at myself. I direct my angst towards the twists and turns in the story and thus manage to obliterate the sources of the pain from my environment...
...at least till I turn the last page.
Queen or not, I could really do with that deadly cobra now.