Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Why Stories Matter

Have you ever finished a book and been unable to stop thinking about it? Why do we have favorite books--ones we can read again and again?

I suppose the answer is a little different for each of us. The reasons why stories matter to us differ even between each book we like.

For example, A Wrinkle in Time still speaks to me even though the binding is falling apart after having read it about a dozen times (I actually just picked up a new copy in the Spring so that the original one doesn't totally disintegrate). I love Meg Murray. I, like her, cannot seem to find a "Happy Medium". I share in her struggles to control my temper. I often feel like my peers don't understand me.

But in the end, she finds that there's something better. That sometimes, our flaws make us, well, us. We don't have to be perfection personified--there's really no human version of it anyways. (And if you haven't read Wrinkle, get yourself to the nearest bookstore and pick up a copy. It's a quick read). We just need to do the best with what we're given.

Another volume I've read just about to death is The Lord of the Rings. And while I skip about half of The Fellowship every time I read the trilogy, I still love it. After I finish it, I feel like I'm ready to conquer the world. Not in a Sauron-esque way, but, to paraphrase the wonderfully wise Samwise Gamgee, to fight for the good in the world that's worth fighting for. I love the books more and more as I grow older, perhaps because it feels like the world's being consumed in darkness and I don't stand a chance against it. But if a hobbit can save Middle Earth, maybe I can make a small dent in my own world.

In my personal opinion, we love stories because they encourage us. Because they inspire us to be better. To change our world. Sometimes, it's easier to get that message from a story than from a real-life experience.

If Meg Murray with her braces and over-reactions can save her brother from IT, if Sam and Frodo can throw the Ring into Mt. Doom even though they're less than four feet tall, maybe we can make a difference.

It's often been said that one needs a willing suspension of disbelief to enjoy a story. Perhaps we can use that same belief in the impossible to defeat the skepticism that so often holds us back in real life.

What are your favorite stories/books and why? Why do you think stories matter?


  1. This post had some really good points (I had to read the last sentence like three times so my math-soaked brain could understand the complete awesomeness of it) but one thing jumped out at me. And it's a bit lame of me. You've read LoTR several times??? You are amazing. I've read the three books twice and it took me about of year each time of getting distracted by prettier, shinier books. Not to say that LoTR isn't epic, which it is, but the movies are a whole lot faster and more action packed. *hides in shame* I am a terrible person, but I have to say that I like the movies better.

    Seriously though, great post. I'm putting that last paragraph up on my Wall of Utter Procrastination.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it!

      I've read LotR straight through 2-3 times (over the course of several months each time). Other parts (pretty much Two Towers and the first half of RotK) I've read several times more because I'll just randomly flip open to a page and read a chapter or two when I'm bored or can't sleep. I love where Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli meet Eomer and other dialog-y parts.

      I agree that the movies are much easier to digest; there are times when I pick up the books and I wonder why I ever liked them. So no shame!

      Thanks for the post! Glad I can contribute to your procrastination.


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