Monday, July 8, 2013

Why Do We Read?

By Julie Daines

I recently read a book that asks the question Why do we read?

The author--through the voice of one of the characters--suggests that in literature, everything has a meaning. But it is the experiences in our own lives that shape what the meaning is and how it affects us.

Reading causes us to ask deep questions. Like what is the meaning of my life? Why am I where I am in life? Where will this path lead me? What is good and what is evil? What is love? What is my role in my life's story?

He suggests that as we read, we relate to the characters in such a way that we find the part of our lives or personality that parallels them, and we become them.

He says, "If we take these stories too literally, if we expect our personal lives to always end with a handsome prince, most of us will close our books with shattered dreams. Yet, on the other hand...if we don't take the meaning of those stories literally, if we treat these tales as simply entertainment, we miss the deepest, most life-shanging aspects of the stories. We miss the entire reason they exist." (The Rent Collector by Camron Wright)

I've always believed that reading is more than just entertainment. That by picking up a good book, I'm learning something about life, and more importantly, learning something about myself.

So that's the question. Why do we read?


Yamile said...

For me, reading is definitely more than entertaining. I love losing myself in other worlds, places and times I'd love to visit, meeting characters who sometimes voice exactly what I'm feeling or who help me see life from another point of view. Reading has opened my mind to possibilities. I can't imagine my life without books :-)

Kasey @ Mormon Mommy Writers said...

I think we read books for the same reason we talk to people- like Yamile said, we are able to see life from another point of view.

Also, when I am reading something by a very good author, their writing sinks into me, and their metaphors and descriptions allow me to more fully appreciate the world around me by giving me the increased ability to use words to describe what I see and how I feel.

Scott said...

It's magic. 26 little characters (in Modern English, anyway), each without intrinsic meaning, can be combined in nearly endless ways to create worlds, represent thoughts and ideas, and to build realities out of next to nothing. That magic can be beautiful, ugly, hateful, loving, enlightening--all very real, not just the product of fantasy. Reading is participating the magic, discovering something nobody has ever done exactly the same way with those 26 characters. We learn, investigate, experience.

Julie Daines said...

Those are all great, thought provoking comments! I love reading because it opens my mind and stretches my imagination. I love it because the words and stories sink in and become part of me. And I love reading because I love the magic. Thanks guys!