Sunday, August 31, 2008

Why I read fiction

Reading has always been a major part of my life. A day when I haven't read something (for pleasure, not counting newspapers, websites and work) is a wasted day, and if several days go by without reading, I feel I'm missing something.

Reading creates a strange form of intimacy between the mind and imagination of the writer and the mind and imagination of the reader. The images formed in the reader's mind are a combination of what the writer intended and what the reader creates from the words. It is not quite a conversation, since the words go in one direction, from the writer to the reader. But it is probably as close as you can get to being inside the mind of another person.

Fiction uses language both to express ideas with precision and also to convey feelings, impressions and atmospheres in a more fluid and intuitive way. Fiction can often be "about" something other than its apparent subject matter. It makes the reader think about certain ideas, and also arouses certain feelings. Obviously, these thoughts and feelings can vary from reader to reader, and may be very different from the writer's intentions.

I read to learn about other people's minds and imaginations. I read to "escape" from my own reality, but it is a beneficial escape because reading enriches my life with new thoughts and ideas. It lets me experience things from different perspectives. I can make decisions about questions such as "how would I react in this situation?" or "did this character do the right thing?".

I wrote in the previous post that "we are what we think". Since this is the case, I like to fill my mind with a wide range of material. Each new book I read exposes me to new ideas, new thoughts and new choices. I find that reading develops me more than any other art form (though I love music and enjoy films), and what I want to share in this blog is the things I have learned from my reading.

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