What does literature mean to you?

As an avid reader and writer I have always wondered how, and why, people become so attached to the characters within stories. One of the first books that ever caught my attention, and really started my love of reading, was Dragonflight by Anne McCaffery. As a young girl it was full of adventure, and I felt a connection to the female protagonist. Looking back on it now, it is still one of the most tattered books I own, probably because I pick it up constantly just to flip through its pages. In reality, it didn’t need to have the fantasy elements for me to love it, and that is because I fell in love with the characters. I think that is the main reason I have devoted my life to literature: I feel an emotional connection to the characters and their struggles.

Over the years my reading has included more Fitzgerald and Shakespeare than McCaffery, but that doesn’t mean McCaffery’s stories won’t hold a special place in my heart. I have a problem with people who say that books read just for fun are not literature. If we took each book and based its merit on the complexity of the sentences, or the depth of the thematic purpose, then we might find the books that say something uniquely profound about our society and how we function. Certainly, these titles cause English majors and other books enthusiasts to leap with joy (literally or metaphorically? you decide), but there is something about that one book that sparked that part of your brain making you want to read more. That’s because it says something about you as a person. Regardless if the first book you fell in love with was a fantasy novel, or a poem by T.S. Eliot, it opened up new doors for you that wouldn’t have been discovered had you not given the first book a chance.

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