And maybe that's why there are few greater feelings than finishing a good book. Not only do I feel like I've achieved something, but it's so much more personal than a video game, movie or TV show. What you see in your mind's eye when you read a book is a collaboration between you and the writer. In that respect, no two people will ever have the precise same experience with a novel.
I've read three novels and a travel book over the past month, a feat I've not managed in years, and yes, I would like a medal, thanks.
One of the novels made me feel wretched about humanity. And one of them made me feel optimistic about humanity. More than that, the latter made fall in love all over again with video games.
So, I thought I'd read The Girl on the Train, which I'd heard about before I knew it was being made into a movie.
As someone who spent too much of their life commuting into London, I was intrigued by the premise: a girl on a train (yes yes...) gets embroiled in a mystery after becoming obsessed with something she sees through the window on her morning commute.
It's a decent set-up, but the body of the book is pure popcorn, in the worst sense; lacking any nutritional value, yet compelling me to keep consuming it until the tub is empty.
Afterwards I was annoyed - nay, angry - at my lack of restraint, my inability to stop stuffing the stale snack into my gob, even though it wasn't doing me any good.
For a start, it's horribly middle class. I kept seeing beyond the text to the author sat there with an open bottle of wine, pouring her life onto the page, scarcely bothering to disguise it or add anything approaching imagination as she hammered tipsily at the keyboard.
Everyone drinks wine. Somebody had a job at an art gallery. The men are all gorgeous, but one of them - tah-wi-iiiiiist - is a secret bastard. Infidelity is a way of life. The protagonist is a train wreck, and all the women she meets are blonde bombshells... but it's okay, because they're actually messed-up too. "Ha ha! Take that, every bitch I ever met! Being pretty never made you happy, did it?!"
And the mystery is about as bland and obvious as it could've been - and only comes to light because the alcoholic protagonist suddenly and conveniently remembers something she'd previously forgotten.
I hated it. And hated myself for reading it all the way to the end. It's a big, dumb, hollow, wretched, turd of a book. So of course Hollywood bought the rights.
And then I read Ernest Cline's Ready Player One. Spielberg is already working on the movie. It's described on the cover as "Charlie & The Chocolate Factory meets The Matrix", and I wouldn't argue with that.
Set in a dystopian future, the world is hooked on the Oasis - a virtual playground in which everyone is trying to solve a puzzle placed inside by the man who built it.
It's a shameless blast of nostalgia - in the world of the novel, society has become obsessed with 1980s pop culture, in a bid to decipher the clues left by the game's similarly preoccupied creator. From visits to virtual recreations of the movies War Games and Blade Runner, to old arcade games and consoles, and a remarkable tribute to the band Rush, rarely a paragraph goes by without reference to some slice of 80s entertainment.
Like The Girl on the Train, it's popcorn - but it's fresh popcorn with melted butter, and afterwards, instead of feeling terrible, I wanted more.
We're not so far off of the world described in Ready Player One.
We've already got the entirety of popular culture at our fingertips... we're just not all accessing it while wearing VR headsets and haptic feedback suits. At least, not yet.
Whenever the book mentioned an old video game, I went online to play it. Whether it was Joust or Black Tiger, they were only ever a few seconds away.
And weirder still, the second I finished the book, I fired up my PS4, and returned to some of the virtual worlds I hadn't visited in months. Specifically, The Witcher III and Far Cry Primal.
I saw them differently. I saw their potential. More than that, I saw how utterly, brilliantly, cool it is that our games now offer these massive, open, environments. Imagine where we're going to be in ten years time? I want all these games to be linked, like they are in Ready Player One. I want to be able to get into my Battlefront X-Wing and fly to Azeroth, via a perfect facsimile of a grotty seaside arcade.
Like most of you, I grew up in the 70s and 80s, and I've seen games evolve to the point we're at today. When I was a kid, I could never have conceived of a time when games would be THIS good. When they'd offer so much. Ready Player One's greatest success was in grabbing me and reminding me of just what we, as gamers, now have - and what we're going to have in the years to come.
At the same time, Ready Player One is a cautionary tale.
Already, so many of us are lost online, or in places that don't exist in any physical sense, where we can be whomever we want. That's only going to get worse as our virtual worlds get better.
I still think there are many barriers to VR - the strongest of which is that the real world is, well, more real. I can't imagine anyone who doesn't live alone ever using it regularly.
But the day will come when immersing ourselves in a virtual world will offer experiences that feel sufficiently real - albeit without all the stresses and hassles of reality. And with the ability to fly around in spaceships. When that happens, what will happen to society?
There's a little of that message in Ready Player One, but the focus is mostly a full-on celebration of geek culture - particularly for geeks of a certain vintage. And it celebrates it so well, that it made me thankful for not only where we're at, but how we got here. That I was alive, and lived through, arguably the most exciting 30 years in entertainment history.
Comparing The Girl on the Train and Ready Player One side-by-side, one of them couldn't have felt more removed from my life, and the other felt as if it could've been written for me.
More pertinently, the former felt like the one which didn't get the world as it now is. It felt stuck in the past, a cul-de-sac cluttered with a herd of oblivious, wine-drinking, middle-class professionals, who got lost on their way to the art gallery or a dinner party, while play-acting at being adults.
The sorts of people who'd read The Girl on the Train and then post about it on Facebook or Goodreads, saying it was the best book they'd ever read. People who live in a world that is no more real than Rapture, Hyrule or the Mushroom Kingdom.