The Role of Reading
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Literature influences a human’s mind more than any other kind of art. What people read determines their world view and forms their personalities. Sometimes, reading of a particular book is accompanied by the whole stage of personality’s estimation, and changes his or her beliefs and ideas about the world and people around them. Very often, reading may create a model of relationships between a particular person and his or her friends, relatives, and colleagues.
For me, reading has always been something more then a hobby. Each book, article or story I had read has become my friend; some of them played a significant role of my mentors, while others even became my enemies. When I started reading much, I created my own categories of people according to their reading tastes. One may consider such a categorization to be a prejudice, but it always works for me. I have never had common interests with those who do not like Bradbury, Marquez, Shakespeare, Jack London, or Tolkien. Maybe, there are exceptions, but I have not met such yet. I am convinced that books open the door to a different world. It is a gate to another life; so, while one is reading, he or she becomes a part of this world and has a chance to get real experience from virtual life in dimension of the print word. Well, it does not mean that reading can replace real life experience, but it may enrih it considerably.
One of the books I have lately read is the novel Master and Margarita by the Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov. It was written at the beginning of the twentieth century and described the society of Moscow in the early twenties. The novel impressed me by its broad world view that spreads on many social issues, which are true for modern people in the entire world as the author gets to the root of the problems of the whole humanity. What is more, the novel has changed my attitude to many significant beliefs and convictions. I looked at the religion and belief in God in a different way. Bulgakov touched on the topic of the historical background of the Bible and showed Jesus as if He was as real as any other historical personality. On the contrary, his contemporary world was described with elements of miracles and fantasy. Such a diversion opens the eyes of a reader on the cruelty and absurdity of the contemporary society.
At the time when the novel was written, people were obsessed with money, material goods, problem of dwelling, etc. Nothing has changed in the modern world: people live in their small worlds, trying to make them more comfortable with the help of some imaginary material valuables. However, the point is that there are virtues that are significant at the higher levels of consciousness, and they are the things that matter in life, but not money and clothes.
Being under impression of the Master and Margarita’s ideas, I recently had a conversation with one of my friends. He has read the novel earlier and watched the ballet based on the novel. He told me he really liked it. He said it was a nice but a long fairy tale, some fantasy of a drug addict man, who did not accept communist ideas in his times, but there is nothing urgent in it and it has nothing in common with the contemporary society. We had a long discussion, trying to persuade each other of validity of our ideas, but we did not manage to reach an agreement. Long after that, I was trying to understand why some people do not see obvious things I can see, just like my friend did not. I have read many critical works about the novel and its ideas, and realized that there are as many thoughts as people. This was the time I stopped categorizing people according to what they read.
To sum up, it is not enough to read a book and either like or dislike it. The significant role of reading is the attitude of a person to what he or she is reading. One cannot judge people on what they read, but it is a good point to find common thoughts about the readings, even different readings with people around you. Moreover, it is even better to find diversities, as they make a person estimate his or her opinions and world views.
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