Monday, March 23, 2009


Does reading make us kinder, more sensitive people? I think it does, and John Connolly, author of several books including The Book of Lost Things, sums this up well:

"I think the act of reading imbues the reader with a sensitivity towards the outside world that people who don’t read can sometimes lack. I know it seems like a contradiction in terms; after all, reading is such a solitary act that it appears to represent a disengagement from day-to-day life. But reading, and in particular the reading of fiction, encourages us to view the world in new and challenging ways (…) It allows us to inhabit the consciousness of another, which is a precursor of empathy, and empathy is, for me, one of the marks of a decent human being."
~John Connolly

In keeping with this theme of kindness, I'd like to award my friend, Kim, of Writing Space with the Your Blog is Fabulous Award pictured below. On Tuesdays, she posts about kindness and I especially look forward to reading these posts. I wish I had thought of such a wonderful concept! Kim has given me not one but two blogging awards and also an Amazon gift card (what better gift for me?); I appreciate these kind deeds as well.

Thoughts on Kindness:

"Kindness gives birth to kindness."

"Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver."
~Barbara De Angelis

"Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind."
~Henry James

"Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see."
~Mark Twain

"Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love."

“You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret, for I am far surer of what is kind than I am of what is true."
~Robert Brault

"If you haven't any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble."
~Bob Hope

Have you had a kindness shown?
Pass it on;
'Twas not given for thee alone,
Pass it on;
Let it travel down the years,
Let it wipe another's tears,
'Til in Heaven the deed appears -
Pass it on.
~Henry Burton, Pass It On


  1. AW!!! thank you so much Suko! I think these awards are the best gift we give each other. I sorta have had a banner day for good news and it just completed it. Thank you so much!

  2. I agree with the quote at the beginning. I think that reading does encourage us to develop a view of others that is more empathetic and understanding. Also, I love the quotes in this entry. What a positive post!

  3. Thanks, Christie, it was kind of you to comment.

  4. "I think the act of reading imbues the reader with a sensitivity towards the outside world that people who don’t read can sometimes lack."-this is an interesting thought and having been reading fiction for over 50 years I want to believe it is true. The reading life does not effect every one in the same way. Some are made more empathetic, some seem to turn cold and see the world from a lofty perspective. In The latter case Flaubert comes to mind. In The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton beautifully shows Newland Archer's withdrawal into books. The lead character in The Angels's game by Carlos Zafon (half way done with this great 21th century book) uses his books as his castle of retreat. Bolano's Savage Detectives is a brilliant study of the effects of reading or what the world would call over reading. Any way this idea needs a bit more thought before we can jump on it.

  5. I appreciate your comment, Mel, and felt a need to respond.

    While reading may not, in every case, make a person kinder, I think that it often does. Of course, there are exceptions, as you note, and furthermore, because we are all individuals, no two people get the exact same thing out of any one book. It's also possible to retreat into books, as you also note, and become less interested in others outside of books as a result. However, I think that usually, generally (and forgive me for oversimplifying), reading does give the reader insight which creates understanding and often a more empathetic individual. Not always, perhaps, but usually. It's similar to talking to someone in depth--once we get to know them, and grasp what they have been through or are going through, we tend to be more understanding and less judgmental.


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