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Sunday, July 03, 2011

Why read?

I've thought a lot about this question recently.  Partly because I've tried harder in the last year or two to read novels (as opposed to just news and magazines), and I've wondered why I feel so compelled to find the time in my overwhelming schedule.  And lately, I've pondered it even more because of comments others have made.  For example, one of the women who attended the latest meeting of the Syracuse Meetup Book Club said she doesn't generally read fiction (though why you would join a book club if you don't like fiction is sort of beyond me).  And of course Larry never reads fiction, and I have several friends who don't either.  In fact, I have lots of friends who don't really read at all.

Then I opened the latest issue of More magazine* to glance over a story on Best Summer Reads, and it begins with this quote from novelist Mira Bartok:

". . . the right book can grab hold of my breath at the very first line.  It's like falling in love . . . I can travel to the rim of the world, drink in forgetfulness and magic."

Wow, that exactly expresses the inchoate thoughts I've been having about why fiction reading is so irresistible and so satisfying.

Then, a couple days later, I was reading the Best Summer Reads in Time magazine, which included quotes and comments from various famous authors.  Here's what Jonathan Franzen said:

"I just finished a terrific novel . . . [that] left a little hole in my life the way a really good book will, after making room in my days for reading it - which is also what a really good book will do."

Also exactly describes my experience!

*I started getting More a few months ago, though I'm not sure why.  I think it may be a free promotional/preview subscription.  It's not really my cup of tea, and I've never done more than flip through it - too much fashion and makeup advice for my taste, though there's some good profiles and other articles as well.



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