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Travel the world or read a good book?

When I was a kid in school, a lot of the amazing experiences that I had and heard about from others was in the world of fiction. I have read each of the Harry Potter books five times or more, and probably watched each of the movies as many times as well.

To this day, I thoroughly enjoy reading a good story of fiction which manages to take me away into the world of the story while I'm physically sitting in the same place in my room. Good fiction can be so immersing that it is equivalent to really experiencing what is happening in the story myself.

However, as I've grown up, I've seen more people transform from valuing this kind of an experience as the most exciting into valuing real physical travel and real physical adventures (like skydiving and hiking in the mountains) a lot more than what fiction can do to us.

Since it is a subjective experience as to one finds more (or less) exhilarating, I can't draw conclusions that can be generalized across a wider audience. However, having indulged in both of these - real travel to different places and reading a variety of fiction - I can analyse my own experiences.

Ultimately, what we feel about a new place we travel across the world to or about a work of fiction that we read within the confines of our own homes but takes us to a new world altogether is simply a reaction that is generated in our brains to the stimuli that we are exposed to.

In my own case, I have had more instances where fiction has evoked a more exhilarating reaction than has physical travel and adventure. Which leads me to always carry a book with me even when I'm traveling.

But a lot of people don't take kindly to reading. It is still an overwhelming minority that read books voluntarily. Many people never read a book once they have graduated from university.

The only place where books fail is to create group experiences. When we have experiences in the real world, it is common to do it with friends or family (even solo travel often involves meeting people on the go rather than being completely alone).

Which is where I see virtual reality playing a big part in the future.

Virtual Reality has the potential to let us experience fantastic fictional (and real) worlds from the comforts (and confines) of our homes while at the same time letting us do it with our friends and family. It is already a reality where a group of friends can play a VR game in the same virtual world where they can see and interact with each other. Extending it to non-gaming experiences over the Internet isn't a big step away.

If you see your friends traveling the world, you don't have to envy them. You can do a lot more without leaving your couch. All you have to do is pick up a book.

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