What does literature do to you as a reader?Would really like to know what exactly is it within literature that affects you and how does it affect you? I'm looking to delve into the nuts and bolts...

What does literature do to you as a reader?

Would really like to know what exactly is it within literature that affects you and how does it affect you?

I'm looking to delve into the nuts and bolts of literature and their effects on readers.



Expert Answers
mimerajver eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As a writer, I tend to look upon literature in a very critical way. When I write a novel, I intend to bring about a change in the reader's view of the particular subject matter I am dealing with. I look for an 'expansion of consciousness' that may help the reader enhance her comprehension of issues that, quite often, she has already tagged, labeled, and committed to the back of her mind.

Bad literature leaves me cold, whereas good books set me thinking about issues that are either new to me or that are presented in an original form. In general, places, characters, and events depicted in literature arouse my curiosity, so one book leads to many others.

One advantage of reading is that I am free to imagine people and settings, avoiding the spoonfeeding provided by TV or movies. Reading is an interactive process. Let me quote a short paragraph from my book Reading for Personal Development (Jorge Pinto Books Inc., New York, 2011)

"Books call for intervention, in the same way as some forms of contemporary visual art appropriate an object and make a new imprint on it, thus turning it into a unique object, for every intervention is exclusive and individual. The key, indeed, is appropriation. Your copy, your interaction with the story, your conclusions. Books have an ending, but are not truly finished until readers reinterpret and actualize them."


clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As a follow up to post #2 (and I appreciate that this was admitted because I believe it to be probably closer to popular opinion than you are going to get on Enotes): literature reminds me that I still belong to an intellectual crowd that likely grows smaller every day.

Truly good books, especially modern pieces of literature, are not consumed, discussed, and praised in the way the latest great movie or TV show is, today.  I rather prefer that my mode of entertainment has been raised to a more elite status.  For one thing, it makes finding "my people" that much easier, because I find that most people aren't even pretending anymore to be readers and lovers of difficult texts.  And, as a literature teacher, it makes my job a little easier.  Enlightening a student in my classroom to the challenges that literature proposes, or even simply introducing something new and challenging to a student for the first time, often makes me seem like a much better teacher than I might be if literature were still popular.

rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am mostly in non-fiction reading mode now, though not necessarily by choice. I love literature, though, and as the previous poster says, it does different things to me, which means that I enjoy different works for different reasons. Generally, though, I like literature that challenges me to think about ethical conundrums, as well as literature that I can just appreciate the craft of the writer. For example, I found The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen utterly depressing. But I was fascinated by his ability to turn a phrase and to craft a story. So different literature engages me in different ways. The important thing is that it engages me.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am not a great lover of literature.  Perhaps that can help you figure out why literature doesn't "work" for some people.  For me, there are two problems.  First, literature tends to be slow and I want to have something that has more action.  I like books, therefore, in which something is always happening.  Second, literature tends to be depressing.  For example, I read Anna Karenina and Crime and Punishmentin college.  Both of those were very unhappy books.  I realize that's supposed to reveal more about the human condition, but I'd rather read about happy things (even if they are all the same).

e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Literature helps to expand our world view and our idea-vocabulary. The more you read (by different authors especially), the more ways you have of looking at the world around you as each writer presents a unique perspective and mode of comprehending what it means to be human.


I recently came across an article on this subject - "Why fiction is good for you" (http://articles.boston.com/2012-04-29/ideas/31417849_1_fiction-morality-happy-endings). 

The article points to scholarship done on the subject of fiction and how reading can help teach empathy. 

shake99 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Literature appeals to me when it shows me a character that is going through the same kinds of difficulties and challenges that I have experienced in my own life. Every once in a while, a piece of literature will show me a new way of looking at something--but this is a rare these days. It happened a lot more when I was younger and less experienced.

I find stories that have well drawn, developed characters to be engaging. To me, that's a lot more interesting that a tight, suspenseful plot. It's like meeting someone new; someone you come to know very well.

Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I love literature and reading, period.  It's probably my favorite hobby, and I guess the reason that it appeals so much is two-fold.  First, I enjoy the writer's craft, and their style and the way they tell the story is as big of a part of the reading experience for me as the action in the story itself.  Second, literature offers an escape--the books I probably enjoy the most are ones that are far-flung from my own reality--different places, time periods, extreme types of characters that I myself might never meet. 

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Literature does different things for me depending on what it is.  Some literature transports me to another world, either in fantasy or history.  Some literature shows me characters struggling against things I hope (or know) I will never have to face, and makes me feel better about my own problems.  Some literature introduces me to characters that fascinate me, or become friends of a sort.  All literature exposes me to new ideas, and makes me look at the world just a little differently.  This is why I love to read!

wannam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Some forms of literature force me to open my mind to new ideas or new types of language.  Literature can change the way I think about a topic or the way I approach problem solving.  In a less academic environment, literature provides an escape.  I can lose myself in a book and experience another world.  Literature provides excitement and imagination.  It is a way to experience other ideas and other places.  It is a way to get away from own life and walk through someone else's.

udonbutterfly | Student

I've always though of literature as movies on paper with more depth. Just as movie critics like to analyze the scene and the placement of characters I like to analyze the word placement and the meaning of a characters' existence. However unlike movies where I get the feeling of being more of a fly on the wall but with literature I feel like I am apart of the book. I feel the emotions of breaking up when the character breaks up, I too start to question myself why with the character. I become the character when it comes to literature. And this what I love! It's like seeing someone's life through their eyes as opposed to the outside.

ahmad1989 | Student

Literature is best way to know about people's thinking.

If u like to learn about best habits ,best words, best manners, u should learn literature and also should apply on ur own life. According to me literature is : BEST WORDS IN BEST ORDER.

serenitytsubasa | Student

Literature is my passport to different countries. I learn a lot about the different culture just by reading their literature. Familiarizing myself with their culture helps me to understand their perspectives. Another, literature also widens my perspective in life. Through reading, it expands my view about everything. It is a written guide about life.

salimj | Student

A very good literature for me is a companion. Its just like talking to a friend. When I read a book I try to understand the feeling of the author. Sometimes the author's feelings becomes mine

issymoss | Student

literature opens up new worlds for me.  First of all, I love reading.  I wait until the summer holidays so that I can lose myself in a book. But when studying literature , I  read not only for enjoyment but for the deeper meanings.  It is challenging to delve deeper into a piece of classic literature. 

angel-girl | Student

Literature opens my mind up about the world. It enables me to see things from a larger perspective. Most importantly, Literature encourages maturity of thought and teaches me not to be biased against or towards only one viewpoint on any particular topic. It helps me infer things in life more easily too. :)

geanybabe | Student

I am not really into reading but now, i have to. I am currently studying literary criticism and it really difficult to deal with the subject if you do not know about literature. Literature for me is the way of an author to express his/her self. In this way the author can be whatever he/she want to be or he/she can change anything. I guess literature is an artistic way of expressing oneself. :)

abdulwahablawal66 | Student

Literature broadings the way you look at things which might be different from the point of view in which someone else sees such thing.Literature gets to analise every subject matter deep and explains it in different patterns such that  one will understand it in every way you can,which gives you more knowledge about it.

stenila | Student

For me, personally, literature is a form of study. I love reading books, and while I read, I am able to explore the ideas hidden in the minds of different writers. No matter if it is fiction or non-fiction, I always learn something new from a book.

For me, literature provides a great way to expand my vocabulary. When I get stuck in the middle of my novel because of not knowing a word, I instantly look it up so as to not torture myself, because it takes just one word to make the difference in my reading experience.

I love writing, and so reading books provides opportunities for me to experience different styles of writing, from different timelines. Also, as books are from different parts of the world, different cultures and societies can be found in different books.

Thanks for the great topic to reflect upon!

ahmad1989 | Student

Literature , best words in best order, can arrange our life as it is. We learn from others. So literature create a bravery in us and more intellegence or cleverity.

c--------- | Student

I think literature helps in a variety of ways, some times it soothens my feelings by taking me into the world of fantasy, some other time it gives me the idea to tackle my own problem while reading some character, then it brings me closer to the nature and beauty, teach me the morality and values,sharpens my imagination and thought. In short it is a teacher, a friend,an advisor and a journey towards the life.

overworked | Student

For me literature is an escape from reality, allowing me to enter a fantastic world where anything is possible. Thus I hate reading 'true story' novels that serve a dish of cold, hard reality.

grush249 | Student

I may be simply too young to join this conversation, but I had an opinion I'd like to share on the mentioned topic

Literature is a way of presenting things that speak to us. Not everyone can take to every type of literature. But that is simply because each and everyone of us like to find "our" story, a character (hopefully the lead) that is similar to us. Many of us try to find stories that we wish were ours, and many simply like to understand the ways human mind and heart works.

Whatever the reason, reading about someone else helps us get closer to ourselves. Literature is the means of discovering our spiritualiy without indulging in the activities like meditation etc.

bliss325 | Student

Although literature is unsystematic, comparing to disciplines like history, psychology and philosophy, literature mobilizes all our knowledge at once. not just our ability to analyze the outer world but our introspection and intuition as well. When reading literature from different cultures we obtain an understanding of diversity. Literature teaches us how, to view another art from all sorts of perspectives and others as wells. A plot-driven piece of literature often includes, thoughts, beliefs, and hopes, desires and the  inevitable universal level. 

mjay25 | Student

Yes, I came across that article as well! It was really interesting! thanks