According to Mark O’Connell, you read because you are interested in the broad sweep of human experience, and because you want to gain access into the narrow sanctum of specific otherness—to feel Anna Karenina’s recklessness and desperation, or know the shape and weight of Ahab’s obsession, and thereby something of humanity itself.
But in order to make any headway with a novel, you need to grant yourself a leave of absence from human affairs, to sequester yourself in a place where you are sheltered from the demanding presence of other people. Opening a novel might be a kind of exposure to the world beyond the self, but it’s one that necessarily involves a foreclosure against it too. A life spent reading is, among other things, a life spent alone.
What do you think?