Friday, 17 October 2008

We Read to Know We Are Not Alone

That sentence has to be one of the best descriptions of why we read that I've ever heard. It's from the film 'Shadowlands' and if you've not seen it, then I advise you all to rush out and get a copy for it is the most beautiful portrait of the relationship between C.S. Lewis and Joy Gresham. Oxford doesn't come off to badly either.

Anyway, back to those words. They've set me thinking about the nature of reading and whether that sentence actually holds true when you set it against different genres.

Ok, so I know I read Jane Austen's works with a sense of wonder that it's not just me who has relationship difficulties, or an annoying mother, and that these things have passed down through the centuries. I read murder mysteries not because I've committed murder, but because the thrill they give me has thrilled others before me and I know that. Do I read anything by Douglass Adams because I'm supremely interested in science? Do I heck! I read them because they are funny.

So what does this sentence really mean? I suppose it might be better to say we WRITE to know we are not alone, because what else is a blog for except to share the wealth we have acquired and pass it on and infuse others with that sense of 'I MUST read that'.
It's an interesting puzzle, but one I do understand (despite the way I've expressed myself here).

Reading gives me the freedom to explore, to take a part of myself and let it grow through fiction. It amuses me (and worries me at the same time) how much I can relate to fictional characters. To quote another film (this time not quite so lofty, but none the less lovely for that: 'You've Got Mail', in fact) 'So much of what I see reminds me of what I've read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around?'

I read for the pleasure. I read for the experience. I read so that I can share with those who have read the same thing. I read with the confidence that there are others out there who have had the same, almost indescribable, feelings I have had.

I read to know I'm not alone. Do you?

6 comments:

darlene said...

I work in a library and reading your post has reminded me of a very touching moment. A boy of about 12 years old, whilst checking out his books announced that books were his best friend. Thank goodness for books...

oxford-reader said...

Thank goodness indeed. They are more constant than people ... books used to be my best friend when I was at school. They still are now, but I have some human ones too!

pohanginapete said...

I suppose I'd say I write because I believe I'm not alone. I need to believe others value the same things, like wildness and compassion and real life (and beer and cats, except lions), to name just a few. Oh, and good books, of course.

But if I were the last person alive, would I still write? I'd have to say yes — and what does that imply?

RJP said...

You have referenced CS Lewis, Jane Austen, crime thrillers, Douglas Adams and You've Got Mail. Consider me a newly devoted reader.

Princeton said...

At crossroads in life, at airports, in restaurants, parks, at lakes, beaches, on the deck, in the subway, while waiting, while standing, when happy or sad....we read. To pass time, to seek solace, to gain comfort, to gain balance, to lose ourselves or to find ourselves....we read...because we are compelled to....and herein lies the beauty

Regards from Princeton and thanks for sharing your world :)

D. Gibson said...

We read because He writes. We write as a guitar resonates when playing the Musician's song.