This week’s Wednesday Words of Wisdom come from Harper Lee, the author best known for the books, To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman. While the book To Kill a Mockingbird has had a mixed reception, it’s still regarded as an American classic and addresses such themes as racism, class structures, injustice, gender roles and laws. I think this quote is fitting of a writer such as Harper Lee, whose novel clearly caused people to reflect on society and life in the American south.
“The book to read is not the one that thinks for you but the one which makes you think.” -Harper Lee
The older I’ve gotten, the truer this statement has rung. When I was a kid, I read purely for the joy and fun of it. When I got older however and started reading books assigned to me in university with a more political and social leaning, I began looking at books differently.
I began to see the persuasive power of writing and how it can significantly influence thought or even move people to action. The White Rose group and their manifesto comes to mind when I think of this. Since university, I’ve read works such as Brave New World, The Handmaid’s Tale, Life of Pi and excerpts from Silent Spring (a piece that still affects me to this day).
I think everyone should look for books that make them think and expands their worldview. Everyone should enjoy fun, entertaining books but I think it’s good to expose yourself to more serious, informative novels as well. In my view, reading should not just be entertaining but transformative and educational too.
I love light-hearted or humorous reads just as much as the next person. But I also love books with deeper themes about life and society. That’s why I particularly love dystopian movies based on books: not only do they usually have great plot lines but they have something important to say about our societies (a win-win situation right there if you ask me). These are often the type of stories that are cautionary, prophetic and illuminating.
These are the books that make me pause and go, “Aha…I see the message that the writer/director was getting at there…”
Personally, I’ve always thought that a key ingredient for a great piece of literature is that it makes me think, not just absorb.