Monday Inspiration: This Is How You Ought To Feel When You Read A Story?

With so many books and stories out there to choose from, have you ever found yourself wondering:

‘What should I be reading?’ or ‘Which books merit a place on my bookshelf?’

 I love reading interviews with writers and my favourite response to that question has to be Kafka’s:

I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? …we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us. – Franz Kafka

I can think of many books that ‘woke’ me up.  Books that affected me.  Almost all of Alice Munro’s short stories for example move me deeply and Virginia Woolf’s way with words let’s the light in through the cracks in my head. Can you think of a book or a writer whose work has made you a better writer; a better reader; a better person?

I hoped to include a ‘bookish’ pic with this post but here’s what one of my favourite trails looked like yesterday.

ImageIsn’t is magical?


10 thoughts on “Monday Inspiration: This Is How You Ought To Feel When You Read A Story?

  1. Well it looks like that trail leads straight to Narnia! Gorgeous, especially when appreciated from a sunny spring day on the Irish east coast.
    As regards the impact that books and reading can have, one of my favourite images that occasionally pops up on the internet is from The Simpsons and features Marge trying to comfort a depressed looking Lisa by asking her “What’s the matter sweetie? Is one of your book characters having difficulties?” In my mind that’s exactly it, when the words jump right off the page and follow you around as you try to get on with the rest of your day, all the time wishing to meet some random soul with a copy of the book in their hand so you can squee with someone who understands! Once I made a conscious decision to be late to work (which is completely out of character for me) just to finish up what I was reading that morning. Of course the book left me completely emotionally shattered and the realities of being late left me absolutely flustered, so my coworkers spent the day avoiding asking what had made me late in case I’d just break out crying there and then. I never could tell any of them that it was ‘just a story’ that had such an impact on me, which, when you consider that I was working in a library at the time, is a little bit sad.
    Being moved by words is one of life’s greatest gifts, in my opinion. It certainly puts the pressure on those aiming to create stories that move others in turn!

    • I know exactly how you feel Em 🙂 When a book affects me I go through the motions of work etc like I’m in a fog. I’m sure I look ‘spaced out’ most of the time. I wonder what book you’re referring to? The one that made you late for work 🙂 I would love to know.

      • Apologies for the slow reply. I don’t have regular access to a computer at the moment and I’m no good at typing on my phone.
        The book I was so affected by was ‘The Vintner’s Luck’ by New Zealand writer Elizabeth Knox. It’s a story about a man and an angel who agree to meet for one night every year. The relationship that grows between them at the same time as the man’s life follows his path is very well done. I can imagine that it’s not a book for everyone and there were passages which I found difficult to read, but I was so moved by the story and impressed by the way it was told. It was such a special reading experience that I’ve been frightened to pick up the sequel and have stayed well away from the film adaptation, which seems, by all accounts, abysmal.

      • Always great to hear from you Em 🙂 I see my local library has a copy of Vintner’s Luck and I am very keen to read it but am not doing as well as I hoped with regards to reading fiction…

      • I know how you feel: I can read non-fiction from dawn til dusk and still go to bed feeling like I haven’t ‘read’ anything. During my undergraduate years, I started to describe the two actions differently and even now I differentiate between ‘reading’ and ‘doing some reading’. There’s joy to be had in both though and each has its season, so don’t be too hard on yourself!
        If there’s something in particular you’d like to read and can’t motivate yourself to pick it up, I’m always happy to team-read if you need a book-buddy.

      • you figured me out Em 🙂 Non -fiction feels like “work” because I am swamped with it at work. Fiction feels like “leisure”. Thanks for the offer to help 🙂

    • I’m happy you like it Jill 🙂 I didn’t expect my old camera would capture the scene before my eyes quite so well (if that makes any sense). It was quite something – I kept expecting frost giants to step out from behind the trees.

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