Value of reading books essay

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Read so as to know the world. I have had access to private rooms, overheard exquisite conversations and been able to observe subtle changes in another person’s inner life. Books have shown me horror and beauty. But the most magical moments in reading occur not when I encounter something unknown but when I happen upon myself, when I read a sentence that perfectly describes something I have known or felt all along.

I am reminded then that I am really no different from anyone else. Perhaps that is the secret motive behind every library: to stumble upon ourselves in the lives and lands and tongues of others. And the more foreign the setting, the more poignant the event seems. For a strange thing occurs then: A distance widens and then it is crossed. How many times, and in ways that did not seem to require my consent, have Value of reading books essay suddenly and in my own bed found myself to be Russian or French or Japanese? How many times have I been a peasant or an aristocrat?

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How many times have I been a woman? I have been free and without liberty, gay, disabled, old, loved and loathed. All great art allows us this: a glimpse across the limits of our self. They are moments of genuine expansion. They are at the heart of our humanity.

We couldn’t have gotten here without them. Just as a river leads to the sea — and from Jane Austen’s vernacular social order to William Faulkner’s American South, from Naguib Mahfouz’s Cairo to Tayeb Salih’s village in Sudan — the particular in great literature has always flowed to the universal. Marechera was instead promoting a courageous universalism that is at the heart of how literature works and, I believe, central to our resistance to the narrow visions of right-wing populists such as Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders and Nigel Farage. Nothing we read can import new or foreign feelings that we don’t, in one form or another, already possess. Books can’t install unknown feelings or passions into us. This is why literature is the greatest argument for the universalist instinct, and this is why literature is intransigent about its liberty.

This is the case both for undergraduate and professional education.
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