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Why We Read Fiction

Many People don’t read fiction as often as they should, most read an overload of nonfiction ranging from books, newspapers, or even social media posts. However there are many benefits of reading fiction that people look past and ignore, those people who just read nonfiction miss out on deeper emotional experiences and ways to seek themselves. Reading fiction strengthens empathy, which allows for us to be more human, and allows people to find and recognize their personal identities.

Empathy is formed when people read literary fiction, through the complex plotlines and characters. Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief, writes about the life of a young girl called Liesel Meminger. Liesel has become known for stealing books, this leads to her meeting the mayor’s wife, Mrs. Hermann. After Liesel and Mrs. Hermann become friends, Liesel writes a letter saying, “You have been a friend to me even though I’ve hurt you, even though I’ve been insufferable and I think I’ll leave you alone now” (Zusak #).

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This gives the reader insight on how Liesel grew from a small, quiet, shy girl into a girl who knew what other people, such a Mrs, Hermann, were going through. She could see how it felt to be in the older woman’s shoes. Liesel had grown more empathetic and sensitive to the way others felt. Empathy has more than one meaning as well, one being how it connects you to other people. Liesel achieved this through reading her stolen books. In one case, Liesel was connecting with her young, deceased brother, “Perhaps she wanted to make sure her brother was buried right.

Whatever the reason, her hunger to read that book was as intense as any ten year old human could experience” (Zusak 55). Here Liesel stole her first book, The Grave Digger’s Handbook shortly after her brother had passed away. The situation is a sufficient example as to how Liesel used the power of reading to noty only connect with the living, but with the dead. She used the book as a reminder of the journey taken and the unfortunate event that occured. Not only do fiction books help us to connect with one another, but they help us be more human, down to earth and reasonable.

People and humanity as a whole would act and see each other differently without literary fiction, we would all be different people without the imaginative worlds authors have created. An article titled, Reading Fiction Helps Make Us Human, provides a variety of examples of how we treat each other because of our reading.

Jinnie Spiegler the author of this article writes, “Literature connects us to and deepens our understanding of other people their needs, desires, and motivations.” Reading not only helps us interact with others, but we can use our knowledge of empathy in fiction to see eye to eye and emotionally understand people. Liesel Meminger from, The Book Thief is a perfect example of this, she used her understanding of empathy to reach out to others around her so that they would be able to have a deeper sentimental affiliation. Spiegler also uses valid examples on the way empathy makes us human.

She writes, “It helps us communicate better. It exposes us to the many ways a problem or conflict can be solved” (Spiegler). This proves that not only do we gain comprehensive feelings towards one another, but we are shown exceptional ways of communication and problem solving. Spiegler even tells us that her very own daughter wouldn’t be the same without the characteristics she took away from reading fiction. Reading fiction not only can help us gain good characteristics and behaviors, but it can help many people find their personal identities.

Fiction can also help those who feel lost find and regain their personal identities. Walter Dean Myers, a writer for the New York Times, shares his personal experience on finding his identity in his piece, “Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Books?”

\Here he reminisces a small anecdote from his childhood writing, “I was beginning the quest for my own identity. I was a person who felt the drama of great pain and greater joys, whose emotions could soar within the five-act structure of a Shakespearean play or find quiet comfort in the poems of Gabriela Mistral” (Myers).

The story Myers shares with the reader gives us some insight on how his personality was affected when he read different materials about different lives and characters. Throughout these emotional journeys Myers began to realize what kind of person he was and how that affected his character. This example demonstrates that all of humankind can find their own identities as a result of reading.

However as Myers continued to mature, he noticed who he really was compared to the characters of his books, “As I discovered who I was, a black teenager in a white-dominated world, I saw that these characters, these lives, were not mine.” Despite the fact this quote suggests he fell away and lost himself even more, the opposite occurred.

He finally began to realize who he really was, not how he was like the characters he read about. He figured out he and each individual have completely unique personalities, characteristics, and most importantly identities. In each of these personal accounts, three topics seem to constantly recur; effects reading has on empathy, the creation and discovery of our identities and how fiction seems to make us act and feel more human.

Reading fiction results in a gain of empathetic emotion, which allows us to connect easier with one another and find our personal identities. This is especially important to our younger generations who seem to see more technology than books.

If nonfiction is the only genre we read (like instagram posts/captions and the news) we will no longer receive the benefits of reading literary fiction. The only solution to prevent the previous from occurring, we need more fiction in schools and our lives, otherwise people won’t understand others emotions, how to interact with others and no one will recognize who they truly are.

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Why We Read Fiction
Artscolumbia
Artscolumbia
Many People don’t read fiction as often as they should, most read an overload of nonfiction ranging from books, newspapers, or even social media posts. However there are many benefits of reading fiction that people look past and ignore, those people who just read nonfiction miss out on deeper emotional experiences and ways to seek themselves. Reading fiction strengthens empathy, which allows for us to be more human, and allows people to find and recognize their personal identities. Empathy
2021-09-21 07:53:06
Why We Read Fiction
$ 13.900 2018-12-31
artscolumbia.org
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