What Do You Read and Why?

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What do you read and why?

I posted that question on my Facebook page recently. A similar question had been posed to me by Jeffrey Davis during one of the weeks of ArtMark , in response to my frustration at trying to articulate what “elixir” I have to offer people as a writer. Offering-articulation seemed to me to be more obvious and easy to determine for those providing a service, like creativity and life coaches, workshop facilitators, even writers of trade nonfiction that give specific answers and solutions to many of life’s questions and problems. I mean, I could “get” what needs I might serve in writing personalized ceremonies or conducting writing workshops. But as a fiction writer? That’s just writing stories, not answering a need (except my own need to write), right?

Wrong. (Fortunately)

Jeffrey responded with a simple, palm-slap-to-forehead question that nearly made me laugh out loud it was so obvious (but so often that’s how it works, me making something more complicated than it needs to be):

“Why do you read fiction?”

Oh, for what a myriad of reasons do I read fiction!…I love language, a good story, the imagery and emotions that can be evoked by the arranging of words. Twenty-six letters in an infinite number of combinations that can at any given time make one laugh, cry, feel anger, humility, awe, wonder, connection.

I like stories that transport me out of my day-to-day life into the lives of others, not as a voyeur, but as a witness; alternately, I like stories that hold up a mirror to my own life and life’s questions with characters who feel to me like real people; people I might like to know and spend time witha, who deal with some of the same struggles that I have known. I learn more about myself as I watch them navigate their lives, or allow me, gratefully, to simply say, yeah, me too….

And it’s not just about fiction, really: I look for similar things in every genre I read. With non-fiction, I am often looking to learn something new or understand something that has otherwise eluded me. Sometimes I simply want to be inspired when the world seems too heavy and burdened beyond repair.

When I posted this question on Facebook I received similar answers – many of them so eloquent and heartfelt, I was blown away. There is a whole legion of readers out there! And the responses were not only about fiction, but also about memoir and creative non-fiction. The common thread? The telling of a good story with  supreme expressiveness of language; something that could reach off the page and touch the reader at his or her core.

That’s why I read.

That’s why I write.

Maybe there are readers who will want to read what I have written, who will hopefully be touched across the markings on the page.

Okay. I get it now.

And you? What do you read and why? 

I would love to know.

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7 thoughts on “What Do You Read and Why?

  1. What a great question Peggy, and your response is inviting to meet with my own. I read for many different reasons. I am perennially curious so I like to learn, be transported and in some cases, distracted. I like to get out of my head and in to my heart…or be on the bridge between the two in a land that exists at the authors hand and my engaged imagination. I read to learn. When I was recuperating from surgery, I was bed bound for a whole month. I read several of the Outlander books that month-I dove in to those books and spent hours and hours in the world the Diana Gabaldon fabricated, as if I was a bird in a tree, observing closely without having to respond. Reading for me is a intense experience of witnessing. And, the portals that get opened in my mind, remain there- descriptions return to me over and over and over.

    I love to read. And I cannot wait to read your books.
    xxooxSuzi

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Suzi – this was the breakthrough moment when I realized that I was part of my own “planetary patch” and that my eventual readers want much the same as I do in books.

      I love hearing all these responses – they inspire my writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Peggy, thank you so, so much for this! I’ve been mulling over this exact same question a LOT lately–how on earth can I offer anything to anybody? I just write stuff! I don’t change the world or feed the hungry or uplift the downtrodden…..but maybe we do. It’s funny how easy it is to articulate how books have changed our own lives, yet how difficult it can be to own the powerful medicine that just maybe, we can do the same. Looking forward to reading your stories!

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    • Yes, Brenna, maybe we do in a way.
      I’m sorry you have wrestled with this quandary, but I have to confess that I am glad for the company. I so admire and enjoy your writing, YOUR literary medicine is obvious to me! See?

      Liked by 1 person

      • If we could only see ourselves as others see us! The kind others, that is. 🙂 I hate for anybody else to wrestle with quandaries, too, but it IS extremely reassuring to have company!

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  3. I wrestle with this too and now most of the time I am clear that non-fiction, and not only that but non-fiction that has historical basis as seen through the eyes of animals… so whose my audience? younger/older? thank goodness we are living at a moment of opening and true wonder.. so that questions like mine I now shrug off and continue to dive into the pool of imagination that may transform our awareness, perspective, and give us more , as you wrote , connection! Thank you thank you for your insights and struggles and that you continue!

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    • Caroline, you’re welcome – that is a tricky perspective to pull off well I think, so I applaud your courage – I can think of only a few writers who have tried it (other than in children’s books). I especially applaud you for shrugging off the questions and doubts and forging on with what you more clearly see and feel. Ever onward!

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