Recently, I noticed that most of my friends are radically different people. They have different hobbies, different beliefs, different backgrounds, different values, even. But when they get together in a room, everyone is kind to each other beyond simple manners. I’ve often wondered what it is that makes them gel, and finally think I’ve found the answer. They’re all avid readers.
Stories, especially written stories, show us what is happening in another person’s heart and mind. We can share the characters’ life experiences, their thoughts and emotions, in a singularly intimate way. Whether we like the character or not, we learn by watching them, and we take that knowledge with us when we meet others in the real world. I think readers might be more empathetic because they have “walked 300 pages in another person’s shoes” over and over again.
But what brings us to the page in the first place?
Books and stories delight people in various ways. Some people like to be frightened, others like to be inspired. For me, it’s about connection. That’s why I tend to read romance novels. I want to know that, by the end, the characters I’ve spent so much time with and learned to know and care about will be all right and living a better life than at the start of the story. Life has enough uncertainty. At least with this, with the books I choose to read and experience, I know I’m heading toward a “Happily Ever After.”