December 13, 2007


Posted in Life, Literature tagged , , , at 4:14 pm by Katelyn

I found one of my new favorite quotes last night from a novel I can’t seem to put down, no matter how hard I try. I thought it would serve well as the basis for my post today. It comes from the novel The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud and is inThe Emperor’s Children reference to reading on all topics, including those you do not like.

“You expose yourself to as much as possible, you absorb it, you forget most of it, but along the way it’s changed you.”


The words are simple, but the message is dead on. I think one of the main points is that you will forget much of what you read, and that that is okay. The point is to be changed; to be a different person than you were before you read it.

By reading, and reading on all types of topics, are we not more knowledgeable, understanding, and cultured? In our society where so much of our information is filtered to us through media giants and in non-traditional forms such as television and the Internet, how many people still are changed by the material they read?

I, for one, always gravitate toward novels – a mixture of classic literature and modern “fun” stories, but does that stretch my mind? Now that I am no longer in school where I am forced by professors to read material that I would never choose for myself at the library or local bookstore, I find this quote to have even more meaning.  It is almost a call to action for me to read a book on history, philosophy, or any other non-fiction and it will prove worthy of my time. Force yourself to read and understand books on topics that aren’t your primary interest. Pick up a newspaper or magazine to read in cycle with your normal blogs and other websites.

Don’t ever stop stretching yourself. Be your own professor.

Read, forget – that’s fine, but be changed!




  1. huysmans said,

    So I want to respond to this but I have yet to read The Emperor’s Children, but it is on my list. I also am still in school and do have the benefit of professors telling me to read a verity of sources. But I completely agree with the sentiments your bring up and for myself I’ve already begun working on creating a book club between my friends for next year once we’re out of college, our goal is to include as much non-fiction as fiction and to, for the most part, avoid getting stuck in any particular genre of fiction.

    For me right now it is hard enough reading what is assigned let alone anything for pleasure. So unfortunately I do not do that currently but I intend to, because you are right, reading isn’t about remembering but about interacting and changing. We can’t help but be changed by our interactions with art. So I guess I came here to say I agree and I’m glad you are enjoying The Emperor’s Children it’s been recommended to me and I have placed it on my list, probably for next year sometime after May.

  2. DC said,

    @ huysmans
    I just finished the book and I want to highly recommend it when you get the chance!
    A book club is a great idea. Will you all be living in the same area to meet regularly, or will it be a long-distance group? If it’s long-distance, I might suggest using a site like Goodreads or Shelfari where you can post your comments on the book everyone is reading. It would be a convenient way to keep everyone in the loop. What books do you have currently on the list?

  3. huysmans said,

    I’ll look into those sites thank you very much, but I imagine that we will all be in New York next year so it shouldn’t be a problem. Anyway some books on my list right now include:
    -Tree of Smoke, Denis Johnson
    -The Echo Maker, Richard Powers
    -No Exit, Sartre
    -Coming Soon!!!, John Barth
    -The Big Money, John DOs Passos
    -Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut
    -Prisoner’s Dilemma, Richard Powers
    -Prague: in black and gold, Peter Demetz
    -Nana, Zola
    -Washington Square, Henry James
    -The Kill, Zola
    -The Inheritance of Loss, Kiran Desai
    -The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie
    -The Fabric of the Cosmos, Brian Greene
    -Paris in Despair, Hollis Claysons
    -Walt Disney, Neal Gabler

    Those are most of them. I need more nonfiction though.

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