WHY WE READ

We read literature to hone our analytical abilities. We read literature to know ourselves and to know the other. We read literature to be able to clearly understand and confront the untrue. We read literature to navigate across the hiccups and coughs of our lives. We read literature for truth. The truth we too often encounter in a world built around connected social networks crumbles in its inadequacy. In those quiet moments of encounter between the pages of a well told tale, we find the gift of space and self-reflection. Literature is a moral attempt to find ourselves. We must as Marcel Proust asserts, "become readers of our own selves." 

Real reading is reincarnation. There is no other way to put it. It is being born again into a higher form of consciousness than we ourselves possess. When we walk the streets of Manhattan with Walt Whitman or contemplate our hopes for eternity with Emily Dickinson, we are reborn into more ample and generous minds. "Life piled on life / Were all too little," says Tennyson's "Ulysses" and he is right. Given the ragged magnificence of the world, who would wish to live only once? The English major lives many times through the astounding transportive magic of words and the welcoming power of his receptive imagination. The economics major? In all probability he lives but once. If the English major has enough energy and openness of heart, he lives not once but hundreds of times. Not all books are worth being reincarnated into, to be sure—but those that are win Keats's sweet phrase: "a joy forever.”  --Mark Edmundson

Samantha Jones, Project Manager