The 4 Functions of Literature in Reading
We already know that reading has a number of measurable effects on both the body and mind. So why should we read in the first place? What’s the more philosophical explanation behind so many people reading books in their free time? Alain de Botton, an Anglo-Swiss philosopher, and his team from The School of Life identified four functions of reading literature.
Alain de Botton and his colleagues provide all kinds of practical tips about modern life in The School of Life, from advice on finding a suitable career to the art of being single, from dealing with sex to better handling money. The School of Life defines the functions of reading literature in a catchy video.
4 reasons why people read:
- Reading saves you time
Reading a book can sometimes seem like a costly pastime, but it will save you a lot of time. Reading gives you access to a whole host of emotions and events that would take you tens, hundreds, if not thousands, of years to experience in real life. So a good book is actually a simulator that puts you in situations that you would otherwise never ever get to. For example, you learn what it is like to love, but also to kill or hurt someone and what life is like in different cultures and times.
- Reading makes you nicer
Literature lets you see the world through someone else’s eyes. You see the consequences of possible behavior in a way that we would otherwise never be able to see and learn to empathize with other people’s points of view. Literature shows the deeper motivations behind people’s behavior. Books often also go against the dominant forces in society and show a world in which money and power do not have to be decisive factors, unlike in the real world.
- Reading is a remedy for loneliness
We humans are often stranger creatures than we dare to admit ourselves. It is difficult for us to put into words what is on our mind. Literature often finds the words to describe our deeper feelings, and strikes a chord that you cannot always reach with everyday language. Writers and books give us, as it were, a map of our own feelings and in this way give us the idea of being less alone. Besides: Books are always available. even on our mobile phones, we can find books to read, and thanks to some app company, we can read anytime and anywhere we like, unlike some of our friends in real life.
- Reading prepares you for failure
In life, we are often the most afraid of failure, of being considered a ‘loser’. Interestingly, much of the great literature is also about failure. In one way or another, many great novels, poems or plays are about people who messed up. But unlike the media, or the people around us, situations are always more nuanced and books are less easily condemned.
In summary, you could say that literature helps us to live and die, with just a little bit more wisdom, goodness and sanity, according to The School of Life.