(From previous blog, unedited)
This was a piece I did a few years back. Reflecting upon it, I probably should’ve kept more to the point and not spent as much time on the examples as I did. Oh well, maybe someday I might do a more concise version. Perception is ever-changing after all.
“Write a persuasive speech about the importance of literature in people’s lives.”
Reading is a wonderful thing, don’t you agree? The notion that something written on paper in what is considered to be the colour of death, surprisingly, manages to immerse the reader – if they are willing – in a whole new light, a whole other world. That of itself is a remarkable feat when you think about it – the simplicity of a few hand gestures, the strokes of a pen – creating this other world. Truly inspiring.
Are those days gone, I wonder. Is today’s generation concerned only with their devices and services? Surprisingly, that could not be farther from the truth, as I have recently discovered with help from the internet (thanks, internet!) that reading is at an all-time high. I couldn’t believe it, with all the visual and aural forms of entertainment around – TV, computers, video game consoles, iPods, etc – I had this preconception that literature wouldn’t even cross the mind of an eight-year-old.
Why is that? I’ll tell you why, and this is going to tie-in to the importance of literature, so pay attention! E-books. Digital copies of thousands upon thousands of different kinds of reading material now available for reasonable to astonishing low costs. I know people say this every era when something new and wonderful is invented, but we are living in the future, ladies and gentlemen. Reading has evolved from vulnerable clumps of paper to something on a higher plane that can truly immortalize biographies, autobiographies, historical articles, stories – the lot.
Now, you may be asking “Yeah, that’s great and all, but what does this have to do with the importance of literature?” Listen carefully. When you sit down and read ‘Harry Potter’ you are sucked into a world of magic, but these books do no tell the story of magic, but of a boy who lost his parents, raised by awful relatives who consistently belittled and mistreated him and then one day escape from the cruel and mundane aspects of life into a magical wonderland filled with friends, a new heartwarming family and… magic.
My point is that ‘Harry Potter’ can appeal to all children and still manage to be an entertaining read for adults. Speaking of adults, the book series ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ (you know, those books ‘Game of Thrones’ is based on) is a dark fantasy where ‘plot armour’ is non-existent. Try not to get too attached to any particular character. When someone dies in ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ it’s the same as in reality (yes, I know people aren’t usually killed by fire-breathing dragons), and by that I mean the deaths come out of nowhere. Both the books and the show have an ominous atmosphere at all times because of this – the idea that death is an entity lurking in the shadows, biding its time until – BAM! No more [insert character death here]. The reader becomes more enveloped now that they know anyone can die at any time – this not only creates tension and suspense but fear and anxiety. The reader won’t be able to not become attached to at least one of the characters (so many charismatic killers, so many horrific deaths and so little time) because they’re relatable, charming, honourable, etc. The reader conflicts because knowing that your favourite character is now susceptible to death – most likely a very gruesome one – means you don’t want to read on when things get hairy for that character, but at the same time you can’t put the book down because it’s such an engrossing experience.
Bottom-line, literature is important because it gives us something to either learn about the world or ourselves or to escape reality and enter another world that gives a different perspective on reality. If the characters are relatable and the story you’re trying to tell has universal appeal (everyone can get something out of it) then you’ve created something important, because it connected to someone on some level – inspired them, motivated them, made them smile, made them laugh, made them cry, gave them anxiety and fear for the characters… That is why literature is so important to people. And that is why we should all continue to read.