Tuesday, February 17, 2015

THREE REASONS I LOVE TO READ: GUEST POST by TERESA HIRST

The Book Pound is pleased to welcome Teresa Hirst back for a guest post this week. Last year Teresa joined us for an interview after the publication of her first book, Twelve Stones to Remember Him: Building Memorials of Faith from Financial Crisis. This month she's releasing a novel inspired by a true story; Flowers of Grace will be released on February 20th. You can pre-order it until then at Amazon. Many thanks for sharing your love of reading and writing with us, Teresa!

THREE REASONS I LOVE TO READ
Guest Post by Teresa Hirst

Following a week dedicated to love, I say, “I love books.” I love hardcover books, paperbacks and ebooks. I love their longer format, the ability to lose myself in them, and where they take my mind and heart.

Why do you read? If you are visiting a book blog, you are most likely a reader. Is it a leisure activity? For lifelong learning? A family activity?

They certainly inform. Many books entertain. But what does reading do for us? What really makes us love them? The best books, even those that entertain or inform, seem to have one thing in common—they pull us into the heart of someone else.

Ahh. The heart. We are emotional people. In our very private reading moments, when we have given our whole focus to the story, something happens to us.

What is that something? It’s probably different for everyone. But some common interactions with a story—fiction or nonfiction—do exist.

We can see ourselves in the characters. Or when those characters are too different, we can experience human nature through someone else. Regardless of the outcome of the story, we can take something away with us.

We Feel Normal  
A good story welcomes an emotional relationship to the characters. When we find that, we establish a connection that goes beyond what an author writes on the page. Just like in any other relationship, we bring our own frame of reference and our own emotion. With that investment, we might say, “I can relate to this person” or “She does that, too? I’m not alone.”

This doesn’t mean that we can only relate to characters like us. We may really relate to a protagonist but when they do something we don’t like, we stick with them and want them to change or succeed. We are rooting for them. In turn, we can learn to root for ourselves or recognize in traits in ourselves that we didn’t see before—that we like or that we want to change.

We Understand
Closely related to understanding ourselves through reading, we can understand those who are different than us. Readers are open to finding commonality with people who make different choices or live in foreign circumstances, allowing them to explore human nature from a different angle.

Teresa's Book Shelf

 In Orson Scott Card’s nonfiction writing book Characters and Viewpoints, he expresses why fiction is important, “To give a better understanding of human nature and human behavior than anyone can ever get in life. To come to some understanding of why other people act the way they do.”

I recently finished My Story by Elizabeth Smart, a nonfiction personal account of her abduction as a child, her nine months of captivity and her rescue from her captors. After the first description of the horrific acts she endured, I wondered if I should go on. This was not a positive and pleasant experience to imagine. But I read the whole book. The typical emotions of compassion from my mother perspective filled me, but I also I understood the faces of evil from reading My Story. Even more, I gleaned from her words how positive traits in our own natures could overcome evil.

We Are Inspired
A book doesn’t have to be—in fact it shouldn’t be—didactic or preachy, to leave the reader with these sorts of takeaways. Because we bring our own perspective to reading, we naturally make connections in a story to the real life right in front of us. We may even be motivated to do something more, something different or something better.

Finishing a book is bitter sweet. We love knowing what happens but we miss being in the middle of the experience. So what is next? Beyond looking for the sequel, if there is one, or reading other works by a writer, sharing it with someone and discussing it together extends our reading experience.

Even if we are a solitary book lover, reading leaves something intangible behind in us. We may not be sure what it is, but it’s most likely stored in our heart.

What book have you read recently? What did you take away from it?

Teresa Hirst

Teresa is the author of Flowers of Grace, a new novel inspired by a true story. She grew up feasting on Harriet the Spy and now counts legitimate people watching as a favorite hobby. Teresa lives with her husband and teenage children in Minnesota, loves sentimental movies and great conversations, and practices daily gratitude to cope with neuroendocrine cancer.  Find out more about her and her books at www.teresahirst.com or subscribe to her blog at www.tjhirst.com. And of course she’s on Goodreads and Facebook.

2 comments:

  1. "Finishing a book is bitter sweet. We love knowing what happens but we miss being in the middle of the experience. So what is next? Beyond looking for the sequel, if there is one, or reading other works by a writer, sharing it with someone and discussing it together extends our reading experience. ...
    What book have you read recently?"

    So true! I just finished reading John Steinbeck's "Travels With Charley," lingering on the last pages not wanting it to end. Meanwhile I ordered his "Grapes of Wrath", though over the years I've read it twice, but now wanted to stay immersed in Steinbeck's beautiful prose.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Finishing a book is bitter sweet. We love knowing what happens but we miss being in the middle of the experience. So what is next? Beyond looking for the sequel, if there is one, or reading other works by a writer, sharing it with someone and discussing it together extends our reading experience. ... What book have you read recently?"

    So true! I recently read John Steinbeck's "Travels With Charley", lingering on the last pages, not wanting it to end. Meanwhile, I ordered his "Grapes of Wrath," though over the years I'd read it twice, but now wanted to stay immersed in Steinbeck's beautiful prose.

    ReplyDelete