And the second thing fiction does is to build empathy. When you watch TV or see a film, you are looking at things happening to other people. Prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world and people it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You’re being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you’re going to be slightly changed.
This is a snippet of a lecture Neil Gaiman gave to the Reading Agency in London, on Monday, October 14, about the importance of reading, libraries, and librarians. Read the rest here in The Guardian. It is a long-ish read, but worth it. Gaiman makes the case for reading, libraries, books and daydreaming better than anyone I’ve ever seen (or read). Pass it on.
Now if only people would put down their smart phones and tablets and turn off the tv long enough to read a book.