Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. Musings from someone who sees stories everywhere.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Why do we read novels?

We have only one life to live. Novels offer us glimpses and insights into the experiences of others, their lives, loves, adventures and ideas of people and places which we would otherwise never encounter.
Novels offer the deeper stories of human experience beyond dry accounts of history or news reports.
Novels help us to understand the intricacies of human nature.
What is it like to be a young man growing up in a small town in Malaysia and being sucked into the underworld? I recently read Nazi-Goreng by Marco Ferrarese and was drawn into their experieneces.

Another book I recently read,  The World in My Hands by K Anis Ahmed, is a satirical exploration of life in Bangladesh today.
What is life like in the strife-torn frontier regions of Pakistan? Fatima Bhutto's Shadow of the Crescent Moon offered me deep insights.
 The Hungry Ghosts by Shyam Selvadurai took me into the world of a young gay man of Sri Lankan origin living in Canada. 
Seasons of Flight by Manjushree Thapa drew me into the life of a young Nepali woman who migrates in search of a new life to the US.
These beautifully written novels are random examples from my recent reading, which have opened up new worlds for me, and showed me different perspectives and different views, to which I would otherwise never have been exposed.
There are numerous classics, written by consummate literary artists. And well-written recent novels like the ones cited above are examples of engrossing stories which entertain. challenge our thought and imagination and broaden our horizons.
Great movies also serve the same purpose, but reading novels scores over movies because:
watching movies is a more passive activity compared to reading. While we are passive spectators in the case of movies, reading requires more intellectual involvement and effort, excercising our grey cells a bit more.
Reading novels increases our command over language, our vocabulary, and our abitlity to express ourselves.
You can relax with a good book just about anywhere and at any time, and enjoy the experience at your own pace. Try watching a movie for an hour, and going back to view the rest after a day or two, and you will see what I mean.

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