The thing about reading books, they are almost sacred objects of our culture. But is that the reason why we read? Why are we doing this at a time when there are Tv series, films and games like never before?
To the question of whether books are good things, many will agree even those who don’t like to read. For the most part, because from childhood on, we learned that reading is lofty. That’s the thing about reading books.
Suppose you have the choice between a Mark Twain novel and the new Stephen King thriller. Let’s further suppose you will read only one of these two books in your life. No one would ever know which book you read. Which would you chose?
You notice, what I’m getting at. Reading experiences, in the context of history, a change of meaning again and again.
Mark Twain may have been the hot shit back then. And the education system insists on presenting these classics to their students. For analysis and interpretation. But it would be well served to discuss contemporary literature in the classroom.
The take away from literature lessons is the ancient worship of centuries-old books. They are, of course, cultural assets. And it is gratifying, that even today, there are enthusiastic readers. That as well is the thing about reading books.
Readers reveal the eternal, and meaningless, clash between entertainment and so-called high literature.
Thinking in these categories does not help us. Does it actually matter if I read Hemingway or a magazine?
Entertainment novels have left the dingy corner. Congratulations, it took long enough.
Yet, many readers still feel uncomfortable promoting in public their love of reading.
But that’s what it’s about. It’s about suspense, thrills. About a story that drives us and moves us, that shakes us, fascinates, sadens or amuses us- or all together.
Why we read has emotional and less rational reasons. Most readers are looking for entertainment. But why not resort to more digestible versions?
The majority of people fill their level of entertainment via fast-consuming channels.
This is not criticism, but a fact.
Television and film are still very popular. Although Generation Y and the Digital Natives move away from TV. That does not make them any better, because they instead make a pilgrimage to Netflix and Co.
But why are books still so popular? In a world in which we can entire serial universes for less than $ 10 a month at any time.
To understand this phenomenon, we must look at the limitations of the media. which are in their own nature.
Films and Tv are visual, without a picture they can not transport any meaning. There is still the acoustics, but who wants to listen to the Clintons for two hours?
An essential human asset, the imagination, is thus not addressed by the media.
That’s exactly the notch books hit. They open up worlds of readers that are alike, but yet completely different.
The pictures described come to life in the mind. Made up of memories and visualizations. Reading is not passive, but a conversation, as I have already described.
And we read because we need exactly this stimulating, activating function.
The situation is similar with the two competing media. Cinematic documentaries and non-fiction books.
Of course, we can watch at a documentary about a person’s life. But do not we learn much more in a biography? There the person has the opportunity to talk to and with us. Because we remember – reading is a conversation.
Another advantage of the non-fiction book is that we can look up information fast. Whether by scanning the table of contents or, more precise, the index.
It all sounds so simple. But in fact the reasons why the majority of readers still access books,
Entertainment, Imagination and Depth
The answer to why we read is especially of emotional origin.
So, the high culture is rarely the motivator that moves us to the bookshelf. But rather it’s the desire for entertainment.
A form of entertainment that distinguishes itself from other entertainment offerings today. But of course it would not be bad to read Hemingway again.
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