It should come as no surprise that C.S. Lewis, the world-renowned author of The Chronicles of Narnia series, believes that everyone should read books. Reading gives you the ability to see an infinite number of perspectives all while remaining yourself.
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Even in our modern world where the internet and TV reveal the world and other people’s stories, reading is still important. In his book, An Experiment in Criticism, Lewis explains how reading expands the world you exist in:
We realise it best when we talk with an unliterary friend. He may be full of goodness and good sense but he inhabits a tiny world. In it, we should be suffocated. The man who is contented to be only himself, and therefore less a self, is in prison. My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through those of others. Reality, even seen through the eyes of many, is not enough. I will see what others have invented. Even the eyes of all humanity are not enough. I regret that the brutes cannot write books…. in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like a night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.
Reading does something to your brain that makes it react differently than it would if you watched a movie or TV show. Reading lets your own mind fill in the gaps and create the imagery so that it can really feel like it’s you who is perceiving the events and people, even though you know it’s someone else. If you want to expand your world — and develop some empathy in the process — you have to see through the eyes of others.