May 27, 2009
How the Power of Literature Has Affected My Life - Value of Literature
If you asked me how much I valued literature a few months ago, I would have probably laughed it off and proclaimed it has no value because it does not affect me. What kind of value could literature possibly have? It is just books. Random characters dealing with their random problems. What could that possibly offer me except giving me something to kill time? It was not until I began researching about the value of literature that I realized its vital contributions to my life and the lives of everyone around me. I found out no matter how often (or not so often) that you read, literature can and will still affect you in a way nothing else can. The value of literature to me can not only be found in what I have learned from reading, but how it has influenced my life. In this essay, I am going to talk about how literature has affected me, and in a small way determined who I am today, and how it has affected my views on certain subjects. Various types of literature have taught me many interesting things about the world, cultures, and most importantly, myself. In addition, I will describe my history as a reader and my plan for reading in the future.
Literature has somewhat sculpted me into the person I am today. I believe that children are very easily influenced, and as a child, I was exposed to literature almost every night. I began to read Goosebumps books when I was only five years old. I think that habit has affected my personality because literature is about connecting with the characters on a more-than-personal level, and I feel like I can do that now to my friends better than most people can. I have a great sense of empathy that keeps me from doing anything to anyone that I would not like do to myself. An English teacher named Tim Gillespie, who has studied the value of literature and written many articles about it, concludes: By its truthful portrayal of life's complex moral choices, literature draws us in, submerges us into a story, and summons our imaginative power to identify with characters. Literature thus might be one antidote to the disease of disconnection that afflicts us. Assaulting someone, tagging a wall with spray paint, sexually harassing another, or yelling a racial slur all show incapacity to empathize, to imagine another's deepest responses, to consider the real consequences of actions on others. In the fractious world we inhabit, empathy is a much-needed skill, and literature is a form in which we can practice this skill (Gillespie 61). Assuming this is true, I attribute my empathy to my childhood reading. And who knows what other characteristics and changes to my personality reading has brought me. This is an aspect of reading I think is extremely under rated, and I think it should be more publicly known. When I think about it, there must be a link between empathy and reading at a young age, as my friends who seem to completely lack empathy don't read at all and don't have the strong family values that would support reading, especially at a young age. Empathy is one of the most valuable things literature can offer its readers.
Bill Clinton once said that children could not be expected to live a life they cannot imagine. Moreover, there is no better way to expand one's imagination than with reading. The books I enjoy reading involve the protagonist embarking on a long and unlikely journey, which would be impossible for me to experience for myself in real life. However, I feel like by reading about this adventure, in a sense I am experiencing it for myself. There's something about reading that makes it so involving, unlike movies or television where I can become distracted and miss parts of it. Reading requires all of my senses to be focused on the literature, which I believe...