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Amgad Muhammad

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What's the point of novels?

All of us would agree that reading for facts and knowledge widens our perspective, but what does reading novels do?
Do we read novels for the sole purpose of entertaining ourselves or does it make us intelligent in some way?
How can one take lessons from a story that was made up and characters that do not exist?

Is reading novels just a waste of time? a sort of video game for those who like to read?


Topics: books

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  • May 10 2013: Reminds me of Harry Nilson's "The Point." All novels have one or more points, even if you can't find it. However, it is not the novel that has the point really, it is the thinker. A novel gives one the setting for a train of thought(s) that are usually a chance to grow. Not in the way one thinks, normally, but down different roads or directions. In a conversation one has cultural issues that do not afford one the opportunity to go far, because the other participants want you to go down their path or train of thought. Now there are novels that construct a reality which is more rewarding than others, but there is often a repetitiveness that is boring and ends up being a book we do not finish. There is also the fact that if the novel is not giving you a construct that you want or understand you may not be ready or actually be past it's usefulness for various reasons. Often books that we think of fondly and try to read again are a complete letdown and makes us think about why did we like that book. Now for another issue; emotional stimulation. We all know that women like romance novels, while men generally do not (we actually bought that Playboy for the pictures no matter what we said about the articles!). We are a mass of chemicals and thought processes and living is playing or using these as we grow. That growth puts us in a lot of different states that need different stimulus. So Novels are primarily for thinking about subjects or metaphysical gymnastics that are relevant to the developmental level we are at. Then we come to the handicap of novels, which is our common reality. A novel has to have a reality or construct for your mind to exist in. Fantasy and Science Fiction novels are free to create a setting that does not or never will exist for us to think in. A good example is God. Older novels and movies had to have the existing religious trappings, and usually the "accepted" one. So to be truly free in a novel one had avoid this reality.
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      May 10 2013: Thanks Jerry for your comprehensive view. I like how you made novels look like friends, we can be open and vulnerable when discussing their ideas cause we're not fearful of judgment or being labeled.

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