How does what we read influence who we are?

25 Aug

I have been thinking quite a bit lately about the act of reading and more specifically about the significance of the material that we choose to read. A recent OnFiction blog post compares the statement of “You are what you eat” to the idea that “You are what you read”. Do I really believe this? If I do, what does my lack of literary discrimination say about me?  When I was younger, I was an obsessed bookworm who would read anything that I could get my hands on : Anne of Green Gables, Kipling’s Just so Stories, the Babysitters’ Club, my mom’s Women’s Weekly magazine, etc. As long as I was reading then I was content. Over the years I haven’t changed, I went on to get a BA in French and Quebec literature at Université Laval. I am proud to say that I’ve not only read Marcel Proust but I understood him well enough to enjoy the experience. Yet, I love laughing out loud to Sophie Kinsella and *gasp*, have been known to read the occasional Harlequin. How is this possible??? Last summer, I went through a horrible break-up and read nothing but self-help books like Better Single than Sorry by Jen Schefft. This summer, I’m embracing my ecological side and my favourite summer read has been Car Sick : Solutions for a Car-addicted Culture by Lynn Sloman. Maybe the conclusion is that I’m a very complex person and that my schizophrenic-like taste in reading material responds to the diverse interests of my personality.

What does your reading say about you?

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3 Responses to “How does what we read influence who we are?”

  1. whatiscamreading August 29, 2009 at 1:24 pm #

    You’re a promiscuous reader Amanda! Good thing my brother isn’t a book or he’d have lots of competition.

  2. Jimmy Paquet August 30, 2009 at 11:14 am #

    Well, as the famous “you are what you eat” statement, the one postulating that “you are what you read” has some truth in it, but is also partially flawed. In essentails, the statement would indicate that what you read represents where your interests lay and therefore, who you are. But that is a pretty simplistic view of what a person really is. As well exposed in this post, people can read different things in differents states of mind, books that were completely uninteresting before and maybe will return in this category thereafter, once the events have settled down. Does this mean that these people are well represented by the occasionnal book that they read only because of some event in their life. Partially yes, but essentially what represents them more is what they retain from reading these book; this makes them who they are. So, I say to you: read anything, as much as you like, because you never know what you might get out of it.

    Jimmy Paquet

    • Katia September 19, 2009 at 10:35 pm #

      I would say it pretty much alike. What matters more is what we get out of books and how this new knowledge/information changes our set of mind, our habits, views, our life.

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