Stories Speak Truth, or Why I Read

Language used as a means to get power or make money goes wrong: it lies. Language used as an end in itself, to sing a poem or tell a story, goes right, goes towards the truth.”    – Ursula K. Le Guin, quoted in Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World by Cynthia Chin-Lee

I just finished reading Amelia to Zora with my oldest daughter, and the quote above really jumped out at me tonight. I’ve done a lot of thinking about why it is that I love to read, and it will come as no surprise to regular readers here that a lot of it is because I love to learn. I used to consider the measure of a good book to be whether I learned from it. What I’ve realized lately, though, is that I learn from everything I read, not just the books I enjoy, or the books that are well-written — there are a few books I’ve made a point of not reviewing here because they were mostly…bad…but even those taught me something.

So really, I’ve realized I enjoy reading because, like Ms. Le Guin states in her quote, literature speaks truth. The truths can be as mundane as a written reflection of everyday life or they can be profound and meaningful. I’m not going to give examples now because so much of it is objective, but this is really what is at the heart of the reviews I write here on the blog. Each book I review speaks to me in its own unique way, the writer’s message reaching and impacting me differently than it would another reader, and I try to convey those truths when I write reviews.

I feel like there should be a nice way to tie this up, but I can’t think of it so I’ll just stop and say… that’s why I’m an editor, not a writer 🙂