Why should we spend our time reading novels or poems when out there big things are going on?
Some of the ways literature benefits us:
1. It saves us time – because it gives us access to a range of emotions and events that would take years, decades, millennia, to try to explore directly.
It is the greatest reality simulator – a machine that puts you through infinitely more situations then you could ever directly witness
Lets you see what its like to get divorces, kill someone, quit your job or make a mistake while leading your country
It lets you access your life in relation to others
2. It makes us nicer – shows us what things looks like from someone else’s point of view. Allows us to consider the consequences of our actions on others.
It typically stands opposed to system that rewards with money and power – writers make us sympathetic to ideas and feelings that are of deep importance but cant afford airtime in a commercialized and cynical world.
3. Its a cure for loneliness – we cant always say what’s on our mind but in books we find descriptions of who we genuinely are. In the best books, the writer knows us better than we know ourselves.
They find the words that describe the fragile, weird and special experiences of our inner lives.
In the books of great writers, we find our own neglected thoughts – Emerson quote
Books are our true friend – always at hand, never too busy and giving us unvarnished accounts of what things are really like
4 – It prepares us for failure – one of our greatest fears is of failing and messing up and becoming a loser.
Literature is often about failure but great books don’t judge as harshly or as one dimensionally as the media. They evoke pity for the hero.
We might need to treat literature differently than the way we do now – not as a distraction or entertainment for the beach but as a therapy in a broad sense.
We should learn to treat it as doctor threat medicines – something we prescribe in response for a range of ailments.
Literature is a tool to help us live and die with a little bit more wisdom, goodness and sanity.
Possible discussion topics:
Favorite books that relate to the 4 points above?
Why do you think fewer and fewer people seem to read these days?