Since my petite hands could hold a pen, they have been writing. Writing stories, attempting poetry, some terrible songs that should never be seen by anyone including myself, and plays that adapt a text that’s shaped the world some of us know as literature. However, I feel my imagination and love affair with writing stems from my first love, which is the novel. I’m a bibliophile. They say the first step is admitting it, but being a bibliophile isn’t something that needs curing, if anything I’d like to infect a few more people because something that isn’t done enough anymore is reading. I’ve heard a lot of excuses for why people don’t read, and some of them include “I don’t have the time,” “it’s just so boring,” “Jane Austen makes no sense,” and “who really reads anymore with everything being on the Internet?”
The first excuse, of not having time, reminds me of the essay, “Why Literature?” by Mario Vargas Llosa, which I read in English 5 fall semester of college. Given that his essay is roughly 10-12 pages, I will not go into great detail about why he believes this excuse is complete bullshit. One thing that Llosa does mention, however, is that women often read much more than men, which isn’t very surprising given that some of the biggest successes today are writers that write predominately for women (Nicholas Sparks or Stephanie Meyer, anyone?). But that’s really just another excuse to not read, and if you go into a bookstore with an open mind, I can assure you that either sex can find a gem among the stacks. If you remember, when I wrote my post about meeting Sarah Dessen I included a small anecdote about how literature is a common ground for people who may otherwise have nothing in common. Llosa supports this point by saying, “literature has been, and will continue to be, as long as it exists, one of the common denominators of human experience through which human beings may recognize themselves and converse with each other, no matter how different their professions, their life plans, their geographical and cultural locations, their personal circumstances.” If you ask me, that’s a pretty good reason to make a little time to read. But if you need an extra push, Llosa also believes that “a humanity without reading, untouched by literature, would resemble a community of deaf-mutes and aphasics,” and that we “learn to speak correctly—and deeply, rigorously, and subtly—from good literature, and only from good literature.” So, unless you want to be a deaf-mute, I suggest you pick up a book.
Literature is vital to the human condition, not only allowing us to converse with our peers, but also understanding emotions, trials and tribulations, and circumstances we would otherwise be ignorant to. A major problem with the fading appreciation for great literature is that with society today, it’s difficult to just sit down and absorb it, and cherish the moments when Huck sails down a river with Jim, or when Anna Karenina rides a sad train. We are constantly moving, and with the constant improvements to technology, what with Nooks and Kindles, and having every newspaper accessible online, we are losing a beautiful art form. I tried using a Nook one time, trying to accept that the world of literature was changing, but I just kept feeling as if I was reading metal, and the accomplishment of finishing a four-hundred page book wasn’t nearly as great as when I can feel every crisp page of a novel turn, inching me closer to those last few words.
For those of you who say reading “is just so boring,” I can assure you that you are doing it wrong. Reading cannot be boring if done correctly. How can entering an entirely new world, watching as a story unfolds, and really sinking into someone else’s life for a while be boring? Every novel is a chance for a temporary escape from reality, and the best part is that you are the master of your new destiny, as you will be the one choosing the novel. Something I’ve always enjoyed about reading is that when my world gets a little too loud, stressful, or unkind, I can change my surroundings by going to Hogwarts, Cannery Row, Pemberley, Colby, or Denmark. You can find a world that suits you, which means you can always find a novel to suit you, and give you a little comfort when you are in desperate need.
For those of you who say “Jane Austen makes no sense,” maybe it’s only because in a world where everything is simplified, and where we have shortcuts for everything to make email, texting, and tweeting quicker, we have lost our understanding of true English. I’m not trying to diss technology, as I am a tweeter, Pinterest pinner, instgram junkie, and Facebook aficionado, but sometimes I like a few moments to go back to the time before all of these impersonal, yet somewhat invasive communication devices.
Communication used to be a form of art, something that was anticipated, and extremely slow. Without letter writing, we would not have John and Abigail Adam’s accounts of early America, and I’m sure most people would want Mr. Darcy to show up at their door with a handwritten letter explaining himself than some guy posting a Facebook status about why he cheated on you at that party last week. Letter writing is one of the most personal, romantic art forms. There’s something about seeing the little grooves of a person’s script on a page, noticing the way a person adds little curly cues to their “O’s,” or the way their handwriting gets a little messier as the letter continues, an indication they were trying to finish quickly.
But lastly, for those of you who say, “everything is one the Internet,” I have but one thing to say: sometimes reading a novel, and running your finger along the slightly risen ink words, is much more rewarding than scanning fifty thousand Internet pages on a glaring screen. However, I am a blog writer, so I can’t say too much about this, but my goal with writing a blog is that more people are reading something. I want to share with you all my discoveries about life, and one of them is that we have to keep up with society as a whole, and society as a whole loves technology. Still, that doesn’t mean that ever once and a while—like at the beach this summer, or right before you close you eyes for sleep, or cuddled up next to a fire with a blanket and cup of coffee or tea in the fall—you shouldn’t take a moment to crack open a novel, and trade worlds with someone.
Note: Mario Vargas Llosa’s full article is available here if you wish to read the it’s entirety- http://www.uwec.edu/pnotesbd/Llosa_article.htm