Monday, December 5, 2011

What is reading (all) about for you?

"Isn't reading all about learning about OTHER people?"
- Helene November 16, 2011 6:01 AM at Andrew Smith's blog

This quote intrigued me.

I do love to read for the chance to learn about The Other and see things not as much from my own point of view.  When I read a couple of Suzanne Fisher Staples's books about a girl and young woman in Pakistan, I was stunned and amazed at all the things I had never even thought about considering before.  Books are about the only place where I can sort of get out of my own head and try to wrap it around the stories and ideas of others.

I disagree with this quote.

(I tell my students that absolute words like "all" are warnings.)  I think I've learned more about me in books than I have anywhere else.  Maybe some books have shaped me, but I feel like more often than not I've met pieces of myself in many books.  (Oh, that's not a portrait on the wall; it's a mirror.)  Identifying with someone in the book is not an absolute requirement for me to enjoy the book; I'm not a Method reader.  It's just that I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy because they come at reality and humanity from a slant, and sometimes that makes insights easier to see and handle, and sometimes those insights are about real, human me.

What do you think?

If this were a continuum, would you skew more towards the "others" end or the "me" end?  Or do you whipsaw between them?  Skate calmly up and down the line?


  1. Hrrmmm... it depends on the book? I'm a bit of an omnivore this way, I take whatever comes at me, and sometimes I learn something about myself, sometimes about others.

  2. I'm very much a "me" reader. I mean, I enjoy reading about others and their experiences and perspectives and learning from their words, but I like it best when what I'm reading helps me to clarify how I feel about something.

  3. Those convicting aha! moments can be kind of a rush. :)