Jeanette Winterson: Books Read Us Back To Ourselves

17 July 2018

Write what you know is reasonable advice. Read what you don’t know is better advice. Reading is an adventure. Adventures are about the unknown. When I started to read seriously I was excited and comforted all at the same time. Literature is a mix of unfamiliarity and recognition. The situation can take us anywhere – across time and space, the globe, through the lives of people who can never be like us – into the heart of anguish we have never felt – crimes we could not commit. Yet as we travel deeper into the strange world of the story, the feeling we get is of being understood – which is odd when you think about it, because at school learning is based on whether or not we understand what we are reading. In fact it is the story (or the poem) that is understanding us. Books read us back to ourselves.
Jeanette Winterson, introduction to Oranges are Not the Only Fruit
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