Why read?

I love C.S. Lewis’s powerfully simple answer:

We read to know we are not alone.

We learn we are not alone in our struggle to make sense of this world. We learn that everyone throughout time struggles with various aspects of hope and despair, good and evil, love and hate, along with all the varying degrees of our emotional makeup as humans. Stories are what we share of our ourselves that make us human.

As readers, we applaud or scorn various books and viewpoints. As writers, we have the job of examining the depths of human consciousness and experience to try and make an entertaining or inspiring story. Readers and writers become intrinsically connected by this sharing.

Reading a good book makes us a little bigger than we were before. We’ve entered a new world, met new people and vicariously experienced their lives. A well turned out phrase can imprint an image or idea within us, changing  our essence in subtle ways we are not even aware of.

I’m thinking of Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine. Until I read it, I rarely thought of dandelions as anything more than weeds (or wild herbs to be generous). But there’s another perspective on just about everything isn’t there? Bradbury’s grandfather saw the flowers as the perfect choice for making his summer wine. Those ‘golden flowers that flooded the world, dripped off lawns onto brick streets, tapped softly at crystal cellar windows and agitated themselves so that on all sides lay the dazzle and glitter of molten sun.’

I could have spent my whole life thinking of dandelions as undesirable and needing of eradication and I’m sure I’d be just fine. But reading this book about Bradbury’s childhood, so rich in description and high value instilled in small ‘insignificant’ things sends ripples of change throughout my consciousness.

As a reader, once I absorb a good book, it becomes part of who I am.

What books stand out in your mind as having a great influence on how you think…and for writers, how you write.

10 thoughts on “Why read?

  1. Cassandra: Thanks for stopping by. I took a look at your blog and I am pleased to meet a fellow writer. I am looking forward to reading more of your postings.

  2. I agree,we need to connect to others and this often can be done by carrying out a quiet dialogue unconsciously with the author who may become our best friend and confidante.

    1. Interesting ‘take’ on this post Sid. I hadn’t thought of the relationship between writer and reader as a ‘quiet dialogue’ but I like it. Especially for authors who I love and respect. Bradbury would be one, as well as Madeline L’Engle.

      I like the idea of thinking of them as friends and confidantes. Even though I will never meet them in person their influence has had a powerful effect on me as a budding writer.

  3. I know that this is being a little flippant with the great writer’s work – but his title ‘that hideous strength’ inspired me to create a make-believe beer in my book – The Where House. It was called Beergut Belcher’s That Hideous Stench. Maybe the word ‘inspired’ is slightly over-stating it. Just thought you might like to know…

    1. It’s funny how an idea gets generated, isn’t it? Like a springboard. Something heard, or read will make this wild leap in our brains to a totally unrelated idea, but one that adds a little spice to our writing. Thanks for sharing.

      I’ll have to come check out your blog and book. Sounds interesting.

  4. Mildred D. Taylor’s Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry had a huge impact on who I am today and how I feel about relationships in general.

    Amazing books can connect us on so many levels. I love walking away from a book with a little more awareness than when I went into it.

    1. Thanks for posting your significant book. I have added it to my GoodReads ‘to-read’ shelf.

      I would be interested to learn what books others regard as influential to their life and their writing. In fact, I think I’ll add a small ps about this on my post.

  5. You’ve been kind enough to stroke my writer’s ego a couple of times now and so I decided to take a look around your blog. I very much like what I see. I look forward to setting aside some time to browse more in the future. thank you. P. Beckert

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