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What Happens When We Read?

When you reread a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in yourself than there was before. ~ Clifton Fadiman
Poems give you the lives of others and then circle in on your own inner world. ~ Frances Mayes
Fiction reveals truths that reality obscures. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
No one seriously doubts that reading builds our vocabulary.  It is just as certain that stories build our moral vocabulary.  They shape our life together.  Stories become a part of us, and they change us. ~ Matthew Dickerson and David O’Hara
For fantasy is true, of course.  It isn’t factual, but it is true.  Children know that.  Adults know it too, and that is precisely why many of them are afraid of fantasy.  They know that its truth challenges, even threatens, all that is false, all that is phony, unnecessary, and trivial in the life they have let themselves be forced into living.  They are afraid of dragons because they are afraid of freedom. ~ Ursula K. LeGuin
The value of the myth is that it takes all the things we know and restores to them the rich significance which has been hidden by ‘the veil of familiarity.’ ~ C.S. Lewis
Literature provides you with alternate mappings of the human experience.  You see that the experiences of other people and other cultures are as rich, coherent, and troubled as your own experiences.  They are as beset with suffering as yours.  Literature is a kind of legitimate voyeurism through the keyhole of language where you really come to know other people’s lives – their anguish, their loves, their passions. Often you discover that once you dive into those lives and get below the surface, the veneer, there is a real closeness. ~ Chaim Potok


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