Ideas Behind the Complexity of Reading

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Many would argue that to read a novel is a difficult and complex art. For one to fully understand a story, one must acquire pre-requisite skills to take all that they can, from what the author has given. This is undeniably true, as both Virginia Woolf, in “How Should One Read a Book?”, and James Wood in “The Limits of Not Quite” prove, that reading to its potential requires an open mind, the independence of the reader to ignore the critiques of others, while having the ability to make his or her own. Far too often is it that people go into a novel with preconceived notions about its author, or the novel in particular. This is a huge mistake because “If you hang back, and reserve and criticize at first, you are preventing yourself from getting the fullest possible value from what you read.” (Woolf) The problem with going into a novel close-minded is that it restricts a person’s view of the content in the book. Meaning that the assumptions made prior to actually reading the book (whether they are positive or negative), will leave the reader with “blurred and divided minds.” (Wood) The best way to go into a novel is to “banish all such preconceptions when we read.” (Woolf) With that, the reader can make his/her own connections, and thoughts on the book. Even if the book does turn out to be somewhat confusing, or simply, not of the readers taste, “you will be surprised, indeed you will be overcome, by the relics or human life that have been cast out to moulder.” (Woolf) No matter how terrible the book, there is always something for the reader in every novel, and that “something” can be anything from a life lesson, to reason in something that had previously been unclear. Bottom line is that all books have something for everyone, but can only be achieved with an open mind. Having a liberal mindset is tough, and is a reason as to why reading to its potential can be difficult.

To experience reading to its full extent, one must have a strong sense of independence....
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