Monthly Archives: January 2015

The Art of Literary Conversation: ‘Why Read?’

[With acknowledgment to the creators of this ‘card game’ Keith Lamb and Louise Howland.]

Q: ‘Why Read?’

A: This is an question frequently asked by disinterested students, students who are so busy with their online presence they can’t conceive of spending time, by themselves, with their only distraction being their own imagination. And this seems to be true for certain adults, also. There is not enough time in the day to do everything, and so, an hour spent immobile – seemingly doing nothing – is considered an hour wasted, especially when there could be instant gratification from engagement online or TV.

But reading is, of course, central to every human being, even if that reading does not extend to an entire novel. We read all the time and have to, to survive. We read notices, signs, directions; we read facial expressions and body language; we read advertising and newspaper headlines; email and Yahoo sound-bites. We read to learn, to understand, to explore a world that is not always in our direct path, but affects us nonetheless. If we do not read the signs and signals, then we are in possible danger or ignorant of events over which we may have no control but will educate us somehow for the future. We do not need to experience every trauma, accident, or mistake but reading about such experiences enables us to formulate how we would respond should we need to and educates us on the best way to survive. Reading allows us to live vicariously through the experiences and decisions of others without any actual suffering on our part.
And so it is with reading fiction, which, I assume, is the main point of the question. Just as with learning through real-life readings, fiction has the same ability to teach life lessons and allows the reader to understand different ideals, morals, motivations, disappointments and judge their own responses to those of the character.
Why read? is not a good question: Do you dare not to read? is a far better one.

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The Art of Literary Conversation: questions to answer

With acknowledgment to the creators of this ‘card game’ Keith Lamb and Louise Howland, I have decided to use their questions as prompts for my blog. Call it mental exercise; call it delaying tactics before returning to my W.I.P; call it ‘write something everyday’, I don’t mind what it’s called as long as it gets me writing and thinking.
And, shuffling at random, the first question is … ‘do you have stories in your mind that are spoken, not read?’

A: Well … I have lots of stories in my mind; little snippets of things that hopefully won’t disappear before I get the chance to jot them down; stories that I want to remember so as to tell them to colleagues tomorrow; stories that stand out from the mundane everyday because they are only slightly different. Such as why were several well-dressed Asian business-men filling their shopping cart with baby formula at four pm today? Did they have several starving babies at home? were they intending to take them back home as gifts from their trip? were they going to take it to their laboratory and do extensive testing on said milk powder to copy the formula used? were they Asian competitors trying to sabotage the local market? Any and all of these responses passed through my head as I trundled past, and I liked all of them because they allowed my mind to wander and wonder away from the drudgery that is food shopping. And I told that story: to my husband; to my colleagues; to my daughter. Nothing great or earth-shattering but incongruous enough to make it a little note-worthy and conversational. However, I am sure that any of you reading this are deciding right now that this story was probably much better being spoken than read, and you would be absolutely correct. I apologize for taking up your time.

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Filed under Book review, General Thoughts, Writing Progress