Tag Archives: Reading

Writers Help Us Grow as People

Literature mirrors “the challenges of societal integrity, cultural sovereignty and the dilemma of self-awareness and self-confidence in us as a people.”

[…] “not only should we read books written by our writers for our people, we should see them while they are alive, touch them and feel them, connect with their humanity from which spring their acute sense of self-awareness, purpose and the dilemmas of reality, which writers are so endowed with.” […]

“Our writers should regularly be invited into our schools, talk to students, share their works and thoughts with them and let our youth grow up knowing their writers who so much influence their thoughts”.

From: graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/53006-writers-must-interact-with-students-prez-mahama.html

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Reading, What is it Good For?

“Reading is a crucial practice in contemporary life. Reading helps us to better ourselves by educating our minds, enriching our knowledge, and exposing us to new and diverse ideas and perspectives, not to mention different lifestyles, worlds, and ways of being. This exposure to diversity and difference, in turn, helps enable us to better understand, not just ourselves, but the world around us.

Reading opens us up to new senses and possibilities. Manguel describes learning to read as “acquiring a new sense, so that now certain things no longer consisted merely of what my eyes could see, my ears could hear, my tongue could taste, my nose could smell, my fingers could feel, but of what my whole body could decipher, translate, give voice to, read”.

Reading makes it possible for us to attain higher levels of awareness, enhancing our other senses, enriching our knowledge, and augmenting and adding to our realities. It therefore opens up new possibilities for us to explore and experience.

There are many other great advantages of and to reading, including strengthening cognition and intellect, improving mental and physical health, and enhancing compassion and empathy.”

From, and read more about the importance of reading: timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20151102/opinion/The-benefits-of-reading.590612

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No Future Without Reading

“Reading does many things: It expands and enriches the mind, clarifies the thought process. It stimulates the mind and provokes research thereby increasing productivity and well being. We must determine to learn new skills, when you have a clear and compelling view of the benefit of learning, you will strongly influence your own future and the attitude of the people around you. […]

The importance of reading and the creative use of the mind cannot be over-emphasized as the fact remains that the difference between the slave and the master, leaders and followers or the rich and the poor is largely determined by knowledge and skills acquired. If you want to attain great height of successful achievement, it is obligatory to seek the discipline afforded by books and study.

[…] through books, Sir Arthur Keith opined: “You can encompass in your imagination the full sweep of world history, you can watch the rise and fall of civilisation, the ebb and flow of mighty battles and the changing patterns of life through the ages.” Indeed, life would be a poor and narrow path without books. Books open the door to the world of creative thought and imagination. You open doors when you open books…doors that swings wide to unlimited knowledge and opportunities.”

From, and read more: ngrguardiannews.com/2015/10/the-imperativeness-of-reading-and-creative-use-of-mind-1/

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Role of Life’s Experiences in the Creative Process

“Spontaneity, freshness, courage and a thousand other advantages inherent to youth [are] conducive” to creativity. However, “maturity and experience — the world accumulated and assimilated in the author’s mind — allow him to convey human problems from a truly universal perspective. The writer in his adulthood, freed from the inseparable emotional interference of youth, with its naive drive to over-analyze experiences, desires, and frustrations, finds himself in the optimal position to blend personal elements with those of others’, be they taken from reality, or existing literature, absorbing them into his own 
writing, and widening his understanding of the creative act of penetrating the complexity of human mystery — the only and true object of the artistry of the novel.”

Vicente Lenero, The Code (my rush translation).

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Literature as a Weapon

“Words matter. A society’s books and movies impact the world. Books, in particular were often internationally influential during the Cold War. …

The CIA funded the production and distribution of individual literary projects. …

Eric Bennett, a professor of English at Providence College and author of the forthcoming Workshops of Empire: Stegner, Engle and American Creative Writing During the Cold War, wrote that the CIA’s efforts produced lasting and potentially damaging effects.

According to Bennett, the CIA and other conservative organizations actually infiltrated the United States’ leading writing programs and literary journals. The goal was to establish an American literary tradition that would “venerate and fortify the particular, the individual, the situated, the embedded, the irreducible.”

That literary voice would be an alternative to the Soviet Union’s socialist realism — and its selfless heroes sacrificing themselves for good of the revolution.

Soon after Pres. Harry Truman founded the CIA with the National Security Act of 1947, the agency began focusing on the arts.”

From, and continue reading on the CIA role in shaping American literature: isnblog.ethz.ch/intelligence/the-cia-battled-the-kremlin-with-books-and-movies-2

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Are Today’s Writers Irrelevant?

Writers “can make an impact on the social and political life of the nation by using their reputations as thinkers and writers.” But, “When I look at the contemporary scene, it seems to me that writers make no impact at all.”

“Writing, I am afraid, has become a self-promoting activity. To see writers hankering for rewards is to lose faith in their ability to play any role beyond a selfish one. […]”

“…the mystique surrounding the writer has all but disappeared. Writers are now seen at so close at hand that there is no longer any awe surrounding them. By making the writer a celebrity, the media has weakened the writer’s role and taken away to some extent, her freedom. To want to be known and to be known -both these erode the writer’s freedom.”

“Fame brings its own pressures and Virginia Woolf ‘s words say it beautifully: “Now I think Shakespeare was very happy in this that there was no impediment of fame, but his genius flowed out of him.”

From: m.timesofindia.com/life-style/books/features/I-am-frustrated-by-the-impotence-of-writers/articleshow/49308748.cms

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Writers Can Make a Better World

“Literature is constructive as well as reflective, and there is certain power in this.

Novels rising from moments of conflict and hardship sharpen focus on the inequalities and struggles of those times.

… such narratives raise awareness of key social issues and potentially move the culture toward empathy, understanding, change – or else underscore unfortunate cultural resistance, the failure of those things to eventuate.

…writers and artists who direct their work toward the prevailing issues of the time can […] alter the real world, for the better.”

From: theconversation.com/writing-for-good-in-the-contemporary-novel-of-purpose-48104

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Readers – Agents of World Transformation

“In order to truly understand the perspectives of others different from us, we need something more than knowledge alone. We need compassion, empathy and desire to engage in social discourse.

Contrary to nonfiction books, fiction books are cherished for their form as a narrative art, which employs literary locution, syntax and its plot in a way that allows new perspectives to settle in. According to Jacques Rancière, a French philosopher and social activist, fiction is valuable “due to a new balance of the powers of language, to a new way language can act by causing something to be seen and heard. Literature … is a new system of identification.” …

According to Martha Nussbaum, an American philosopher, “Literature makes us better citizens because it trains us to understand others. Narrative imagination is an essential preparation for moral interaction.” …

“Thus, reading great works of fiction turns the reader into a conscious agent of world transformation by bringing to the fore the unseen and unheard.”

From: dailybruin.com/2015/09/18/submission-reading-fiction-crucial-for-broadening-social-awareness/

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Morally Impoverished American Literature

“Everything is contained in the American novel except ideas,” Philip Rahv wrote exasperatedly in 1940, just as the European novel achieved, in the hands of Musil and Mann, its intellectual apotheosis. Obsessed with private experience, American writers, Rahv charged, were uniquely indifferent “to ideas generally, to theories of value, to the wit of the speculative and problematical.”

Why was it, he wondered, that Dostoyevsky “appears to possess degrees of passion, conviction and engagement with deep moral issues that we — here, today — cannot or do not permit ourselves”? Compared with the Russians, Wallace lamented, “the novelists of our own place and time look so thematically shallow and lightweight, so morally impoverished.”

We must grant Wallace at least part of his complaint. America’s postwar creative-writing industry hindered literature from its customary reckoning with the acute problems of the modern epoch. It boosted instead a cult of private experience and what Nietzsche identified as the style of “literary decadence,” in which “the word becomes sovereign and leaps out of the sentence, the sentence reaches out and obscures the meaning of the page, and the page comes to life at the expense of the whole.”

From: nytimes.com/2015/09/20/books/review/whatever-happened-to-the-novel-of-ideas.html?_r=0&referrer=

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Less Obvious Benefits of Reading

“One study, which scanned the brains of reading people, found that reading provides exercise to 17 different brain regions, and increased density, extent and speed of brain-cell networks within the brain — essential for maintaining mental efficiency and brain health throughout life.

Other studies suggest that, after finishing a good novel, readers enjoy these effects for several days.

Other research shows that reading brings on relaxation. Reading for just six minutes can lower stress levels by 68 per cent. In contrast, going for a walk reduced stress levels by 42 per cent. The type of story doesn’t seem to matter, if it engrosses the reader.

A number of other studies indicate reading Literature — with a capital L — increases an individual’s social competency. Literature comprises compelling, believable plots and well-developed, complex characters whose feelings and motivations are only vaguely sketched.

It requires readers to put themselves in characters’ shoes, infer motivations and tune into emotional nuance and complexity — the same social-functioning tasks that are required when dealing with real (complex) people in (messy) daily life. Reading literary stories increases readers’ empathy, social perception, mental inference and emotional intelligence.

Other studies suggest that frequently reading literary fiction from a young age hones those social skills.”

From: timescolonist.com/opinion/columnists/monique-keiran-reading-is-good-for-your-whole-brain-1.2050718

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