“Studies have shown that reading novels increases our ability to empathize, but not by choice, but by rewiring our brain. … Story isn’t something we humans created for “entertainment” nor is story about something as ephemeral, vague and – honestly unhelpful – as the concept of “art.” In fact, we didn’t create story at all; story created us. Or at least our perception of the world we live in. Story is built into the architecture of the brain, it’s the framework that allows us to process all the raw info that life throws at us 24/7.”
– Lisa Cron, Writer Unboxed blog, 10/8/15
“Fiction allows our brains to practice reacting to the kinds of challenges that are, and always were, most crucial to our success as a species. … [S]tories make societies work better, by encouraging us to behave ethically. As with sacred myths, ordinary stories—from TV shoes to fairy tales—steep us all in the same powerful norms and values. They relentlessly stigmatize antisocial character and just as relentlessly celebrate prosocial behiavor.”
Jonathan Gottschall, in The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human, reviewed in The Writer, June 2012
“Every so often, when I am feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by all the reading I must do for work, I stop. I pull out something beloved, something from childhood, and I read that instead.”
– Laurie Hertzel, Minneapolis Star Tribune, talking about reading favorite childhood books as an adult.
(Illustration: the current cover of Calico Bush, one of my childhood faves that stands up beautifully on rereading)
“They who read well-written books will expand their mental powers; they who read poorly written books will lessen their own ability to think in straight lines and to express themselves clearly.”
Edward N. Teall, Books and Folks 127 (1921)
(photo: Avalanche Creek, Glacier National Park, Leslie Budewitz)
“Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life.”
Stephen King, On Writing
(Illustration: Mixed media, by Leslie Budewitz)
“In anything fit to be called by the name of reading, the process itself should be absorbing and voluptuous; we should gloat over a book, be rapt clean out of ourselves, and rise from the perusal, our mind filled with the busiest, kaleidoscopic dance of images, incapable of sleep or of continuous thought.”
Robert Louis Stevenson, “A Gossip on Romance” (1882), in Learning to Write 44, 44 (1920).
(photo: a few of my faves from a year ago!)
This month’s theme: reading!
“The books that we re-read the oftenest are not always those that we admire the most; we choose and we revisit them for many and various reasons, as we choose and revisit human friends.”
—Robert Louis Stevenson, Learning to Write 104 (1888; repr. 1920).
What prompts you to re-read a book?
A Saturday in winter is just made for reading — and all writers must be readers, too.
“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” — Joseph Addison, English essayist and more, 1672-1719
“Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them all.” — Henry David Thoreau, American writer and philosopher, 1817-62
“Hold a book in your hand and you’re a pilgrim at the gates of a new city.” — Anne Michaels, Canadian poet and novelist (born 1958), in her novel Fugitive Pieces, citing a Hebrew saying