Literature and Its Importance – Why Literature Will Change Your Life
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Neon lights in every color, loud pop music, continuous news flashes, catchy jingles. Thousands of people use this crossing at the heart of Tokyo every single day.
She’s iconic, one of the most famous crossings in the world. She’s flanked by big glass towers and decorated with thick white lines in a cross pattern. She’s the product of our commercialized society.
These days, we can’t even cross the street without being bombarded with advertisements on bright screens. The result is something philosophers would call “Entfremdung”.
It means that we feel lonely, unaccomplished, unhappy about the things we do, about our place in society. It’s an unfortunate phenomenon and it’s unlikely to change. But there are habits you can pick up that can solve this feeling. Habits that can help you sit still and focus on specific things.
Sadly, I don’t know all these habits. I’m a product of this mentality and suffer from many of the symptoms. However, there is one habit I’ve picked up throughout the years which keeps me mentally healthy: reading.
Reading books, to be specific; not Facebook posts, not online articles (ironically), not newspapers. No. Reading books is one of the best things you can do to fight the symptoms.
Besides strengthening your attention span, reading supports you intellectually and creatively—stimulation which people often lack in our modern education system.
There’s a good chance that this isn’t any breaking news to you. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you may already know this. There are hundreds of websites advertising the benefits of reading. Why would this article be any different?
I’m aware of this fact. That’s why I want to argue for a specific type of reading material in this article. The type of books that I believe are the best type for anyone, regardless of their interests. Which type of books, you may ask?
By literature I mean the art form associated with writing. Literature is often classified into prose, drama, and poetry. Examples are “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoevsky, the poems your sister writes, or plays by William Shakespeare.
The authors don’t have to be famous and esteemed. What is important is that they are artistic. And I want to argue for literature and its importance.
Because it’s the richest discipline out there. The one type of writing I would contrast literature with is self-development books (any one of those books you think about when you hear the words ‘business’, ‘finance’, ‘health’, etc.).
Some of these works are excellent and they provide great advice for your personal and professional life, but they lack something, a certain je-ne-sais-quoi. For lack of a better word, I use the word “soul”, analogous with its use in music when you say a certain song has soul—something that moves you deeply.
This is what literature has in contrast with any other type of book.
It’s the stories they tell and the way they are told that makes literature different to me.
Good literature is not made for the reader but made for the writer. The goal is not to make money; the goal is therapy.
Literature is a medium for the writer to express his or her deepest desires, passions, fears, etc.
This process establishes a deeply personal connection between the story and the writer. This is the importance of literature.
Reading this type of story can give the reader a peek into this beautiful process.
The reader will never establish the same unique connection with either the book or the writer, but he can come very close. While learning this process, he learns about the feelings, thoughts, and deepest desires of the writer. It makes him more human.
This is my main and strongest argument for reading literature. However, I don’t want to bore you with other, less important arguments, so I want to continue with some tips for new readers of literature.
I realize that getting started may be a lot harder than getting you convinced, so I’ve included these four tips to kick-start you into Wonderland.
Tip 1: Start at Home
The best place to start is with the literature of your native country. Most cultures have a rich literary culture. They’re a great way to learn about your own cultural heritage. I’m also going to say with 95% certainty that these books are in your native tongue, so that makes it even easier to start reading them.
If you’re not sure which books to read, you can always google the most popular literary works of your country, or you can go ask your local library. The librarian will definitely have a very good idea about your local literature and its importance.
Tip 2: Keep it Local
Try buying your books at your local, independent bookshop. People working there are a good source of recommendations. There’s also a good chance that they organize interesting lectures and workshops at the store, where you can learn even more about literature.
All this learning, I love it. If there aren’t any local options available, you can use websites like Amazon and Goodreads as good sources of recommendations.
Tip 3: Dedicate Specific Reading Time
I’m tempted to say that you shouldn’t be cutting out time to read because it should be a natural thing, just picking up a book when you feel like reading. However, this can be hard for new readers so you’ll have to force yourself a bit.
Dedicate a block of time to reading. It doesn’t matter what time of day; just force yourself to read. The more you read, the more you’ll start to love it, and it will eventually become a natural thing.
Tip 4: Don’t Over-Analyze
The last and most important tip I have for you is: don’t over-analyze. Some people get flashbacks about school when I mention the word ‘literature’. They remember writing essays about mandatory books which they didn’t care about. Hours of boring English classes on Shakespeare. I get that.
The science of literature isn’t for everyone, but the stories are. Stories are what make us human. Ever since we had proper language, we’ve been telling stories to each other to overcome our fears, to understand the world better, to become better humans.
Reading is not only the best thing you can do for your brain, but also for your soul.
Question about this article: What are your thoughts about literature and its importance?
- Literature and Its Importance – Why Literature Will Change Your Life - July 7, 2018
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- Why We Live and Why We Die - September 14, 2017
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