Here are some interesting observations from accomplished authors about the best way to approach books. Or what you should expect to get from the experience. Or how you should approach the process. I don't fully agree with all (no - not even my beloved Kafka). I want (and receive) different things from different books. And - quite frankly - sometimes just want to pass time without wasting time.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
10 Famous Writers on How to Read
By Emily Temple
Recently, we came across Kurt Vonnegut’s term paper assignment for his 1965 “Form of Fiction” course at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, recently reprinted in Kurt Vonnegut: Letters, edited by Dan Wakefield. Needless to say, the assignment is almost a short story in and of itself — filled with Vonnegut’s delicious turns of phrase and serious expectations, plus his advice on how best to read fiction, or in particular, how best to read short stories that one can then talk or write about well. Inspired, we hunted around for other famous authors with opinions on how best to read — get a little instruction in something you’ve been doing all your life.
“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need 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 within us. That is my belief.”