Why Are Books Good?

Gorgeous weather

We are blessed with another splendid day. It’s confusing, though, to be sitting indoors, huddled in warm clothes, and then, on wandering outdoors, to find that it’s too hot for anything other than shirtsleeves.

Today started very well, thanks to a delightful teacher called Mark, who wrote to thank me for my notes on writing.

Mark is not an English teacher. He is a chemist, but he made use of my “planning tricks to create a new world” for his students to learn in. He explained it was “a place where (they) can explore chemistry without them thinking it’s boring”. He took his students there, using his new world to explain theories and concepts in a different way, and from all he said, it is working well. Which is really great for an author to hear!

Of course I have had many people write to me over the years. I well remember the couple who wrote about one book, Outlaws of Ennor, because the woman in the marriage didn’t think Baldwin would do such a thing (many women told me that – most men thought he would, but that’s a different story). It’s always good to know that my characters feel so “real” to readers that they feel they can comment on the behaviour of Baldwin or Simon.

Blossom’s out in force now

However, the lady gave the book to her husband to see what he felt. But when she saw him with the book, she noticed that he was stuck on a page. He would read it, turn the page, and then turn back again and reread it.

She asked him what was happening, and he finally explained. He was reading a scene in which a man-at-arms had been involved in a battle, and in the midst of it, he had committed a dreadful atrocity. He kept trying to get past that section, but every time he had to go back and reread it, because he had been a soldier in Vietnam, and as a veteran, that situation struck a terrible chord. He could empathise with my man-at-arms on a level that went much deeper than the usual response to an act of savagery in a crime novel.

And as a result, the couple began to discuss their experiences for the first time: he explaining about his experiences, she telling him about her feelings of loss when she, as a young bride, waved him off. It was the first time that they had been able to discuss their feelings since that terrible war. This was some thirty years after it ended.

And that, I think, is one reason why books are important. They are not merely a form of escapism, a way to forget the grinding reality of work and politics, they can also help us to work through problems or horrors. Novels are important, not just as entertainment. They put us into the minds of other people and allow us to see how they view the world. 

In a fractured world, that has to be a good thing.

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Comments
One Response to “Why Are Books Good?”
  1. Jack Eason says:

    Reblogged this on Have We Had Help? and commented:
    If you don’t know the answer – shame on you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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