Why Read?

Why Read?

I’ve just finished writing a piece for the journal of The Society of Existential Analysis. Formally it was a review of two books about what books or literature can tell us about the stages of life. In practice it made me think about the wider questions:

Some classic books

Why Read? Why do we read?

Jean-Paul Sartre entitled his autobiography Pourquoi Ecrire? (Why Write?). And we may ask Pourquoi Lire? (Why read?) We may ask why, in the age of the internet, should we read books at all?  and I do mean books – though these days you can read them on an electronic device.

Or even more precisely, we may ask, as Italo Calvino (a novelist as existential as Camus) once did: ‘Pourquoi lire les classiques?’ Why (should we) read the classics?

Some classic books

Journal Prompt: Why do you read?

Edward Mendelson‘s book The things that matter – What Seven Classic Novels Have to Say about the Stages of Life offers one argument for why we should read.

The stages of life, in this context are:








The Future

You might want to delete some and add others to make your own list – would bereavement count as a stage of life? As surely as love perhaps. Separation can take many forms too.

But of course the question is:

Journal prompt: Which seven novels would you choose to tell you about the stages of Life?

Or perhaps the stages of your life?

Or even which are the books which have taught you most about your own life stages to date?

Please share something about your list here.


Published by Kate Thompson

Kate Thompson, MA, CJT is a BACP (British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy) senior accredited Supervisor & Counsellor who trained in London and at The Center for Journal Therapy, Denver, Colorado after a first degree in English Literature at the University of Cambridge, UK. She is an existential therapist who works with writing as part of her pratice.

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