Why Literature Matters

In our 21st-century world, one might be pressured to believe that literature is no longer a significant form of entertainment. I have compiled here the reasons that I remain passionate about literature and why I believe that it is important in this technological world as it was in previous centuries.

I love stories and I am a strong believer in the idea that human beings are storytellers by nature. The story is what attracts me to different mediums of entertainment like books, movies, television, or plays.

It is my belief that literature is the best way to bring a story to life. Literature is a way of passing our stories down to future generations that provide the reader with a window to the past that reaches as far back as we as a species have been writing things down.

Reading by the Window, Charles James Lewis (1830-92)

The Wealth of History

Movies and television have only been telling stories for about a century while we can read books that were written more than 2,000 years ago. A story carries the spirit of the age in which it was originally composed and thereby gives the reader a true look into the mind of one who lived in the past.

It is for this reason that I am fascinated by classic literature and continually seeks out gems that have remained hidden from me.

Reading is a Mental Exercise

Reading is the most immersive form of entertainment because our minds take what is on the page and create a world of experience that encapsulates us. The words guide us through the unfolding story but it is our own minds make the experience real in a way that watching cannot compare to.

When we see actors on a stage or on a screen, we are spectators who see what the director wants us to see. This is a passive form of entertainment that results in brain activity that resembles a state of being at rest whereas reading, like listening to music, compels us to fill in the lack of visual stimulation with our imagination.

It’s Like Guided Meditation

Because reading is so immersive it allows us to feel in a deep and penetrating way that is always safe. The emotions evoked by a story allow us to vicariously experience danger, excitement, terror, love, compassion, and an entire rollercoaster of sensations without risking physical harm or some other detriment.

I have a physical disability that prevents me from engaging in sports or combat but reading allows me to take part in the human experience in a way that is not otherwise possible.

Stories Reveal Truths

Fictitious stories have a way of illustrating truths that are difficult to face. The power of stories to teach is evident in the fact that every culture across the globe has been telling each other stories for as long as there have been other people to tell them to.

Literature preserves these stories and shows us the hopes, desires, fears, anxieties, and truths of a people under the protection of fiction. Writers see and hear everything that goes on around them and repeats it on the page through metaphor and exaggeration.

Entertainment for all Occasions

Literature serves at the readers pleasure and may be enjoyed as quickly, as slowly, or as often as one requires. It can be enjoyed anywhere and at any time, starting and stopping with the reader.

If you fall asleep reading the book does not keep going like the television does. You can read aloud to share the story with others or read silently so as not to disturb anyone who is otherwise occupied.

Books Don’t Require a System Update

There is a permanence to literature that is genuinely comforting. While stories on the screen can be preserved on DVD and Blu-ray, technology continues to evolve and the last copy of Star Wars that I owned without the director’s special edition changes was on VHS tape which has gone the way of 8-track.

While physical books are often replaced by a digital copy on an e-reader, the physical book will always be as accessible. The same cannot be said for VHS tapes or heaven forbid, Beta Max.

When you look at the invention of e-reader you can almost see the 21st century acknowledging the significance of literature as a medium of entertainment. Readers are a passionately fierce lot of people, in part because we have unlocked the magic of literature and we will always keep it close. It demands our attention but it gives us so much for that minimal sacrifice.


13 thoughts on “Why Literature Matters

  1. I’ve invested too much time, energy, effort, money on my books, my bookshelves, my library labels and my database which keeps it all straight to just let them sit there. They must be read (and if it’s a play, must be seen several times with different players if possible so you can get the gist and different interpretations and all–that would be sweet). But the written word will always be there. And too much screen time gives me a vicious headache

    And–best of all–paper doesn’t need batteries.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I LOVE this post. As an English major I get a lot of “useless and outdated degree” remarks. But there are so many reasons why literature is important and always will be. Aside from the entertainment value and mental exercise, I agree in thinking one of the most beautiful things about reading is that if we look close enough the author is almost always commenting on the world we live in or revealing a truth to us that we otherwise would not have seen. By reading we can understand the world as well as life a little better. I think that is always a useful skill and a worthwhile way to pass time.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Couldn’t agree more. Literature is long-lasting and ever-present. I do love the digital world, but I always go back to my books in times of need.
    Thanks for posting this rallying cry 🙂


  4. But the written Word will always be there. Aside from the entertainment economic value and mental use, I match in intellection one of the most beautiful things about reading is that if we feeling close enough the writer is almost always commenting on the earth we alive(p) in or revealing a trueness to us that we otherwise would not cause seen.


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