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Do We Become What We Read?

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This was a discussion topic on Book Blogs. I didn't participate in the discussion because of how I interpreted the question. So if my answer here walks off in a thousand wrong directions, or scales a mountain and then shears a few moons, or dives into an ocean and births a whale and twin dolphins, I'm sorry.

At the heart of the matter, some very high-fashioned dollars are held up in the entertainment business, and doled out to amazingly high-tailored instructors with specific instructions to teach students 'specifically' how to bring a story off the page. How to make a character sing, when we in fact know, unless it's a children's talking book, books generally do not speak. Even writers like myself, who've never sat in on these very pricey lectures, know this. So every emotion we draw from reading a book is owning and owed to this high-fashioned dollarly, but staggeringly basic design.

It's the same way with film, television, movies. I still remember the lady running down the dark alleyway. A stalker is chasing her. But she's a running, glances over her shoulder once, stumbles, breaks a heel, then loses a shoe, stumbles again, falls, while we're on the other side of the TV screaming, "Run lady! Don't look back! Shucks, if I was her I would've..."

It's entertainment, particularly (of course) when we're talking fiction. 

Now, I'm going to step back to one of my father's old, old ruminisisms. As a child I used to watch TV shows like Batman. Dun-nun-na-nunnn-Batman! Remember that? And I know. Just a tellin' on my age, aren't I? At any rate, the musical score was to get us kids all revved up for Batman's next exploit. We were supposed to get excited, start squiggling and squirming in our seats... why some of us real enthusiasts may have even worn a cape our parent's bought so that we could get twice the thrill. But as my father used to scoff, we weren't supposed to be getting so overly obsessed that we tried leaping through his plate glass windows!

Unbelievably, or maybe for some who believe 'we do become what we read', (how I interpreted the question), there were (and are) those who actually take entertainment too far, trying to emulate just what they saw, or read, on screen or in books.

Books certainly are supposed to evoke emotion, except in the case of an adult... primarily, wholly, and especially realistically, our emotional maturity should be developed or matured to a point where we can handle the difference. Please, read it and move along. Or don't read it and leave it alone.

Children may become what they read, or see. Adults should know better, for how else are they to help mentor children to know better?


  1. I've seen this forum discussion on Book Blogs several times but have not piped in because the question seemed a bit strange when posed to adults. I thought...really? I don't think so. I may learn something about human nature from a book. I may even learn something about my human nature, but become the characters? That's a little strange. But then, as I read this, I keep thinking of all those Twilight and Harry Potter fans...maybe the forum leader has a point?!

  2. Hi Kathy!! It's so funny that you posted this after just finishing my romance post;-) But yes, that was my thought too... for some reason I keep seeing 'a strange' adult fan going way overboard with the emotion and wondering if they have any responsibility steering or mentoring kids.

  3. oops... something just caught me LOL so off guard, but thanks for opening my eyes. I am over here screaming out loud laughing though, having read all those true 'realistic' books!

    I'll be... that forum leader does have a point! Hilarious! I owe you one!

  4. Characters in books (and on the screen) are supposed to be larger than life. A page long recounting of someone getting up, looking for her slippers, brushing her teeth... HEY! Wake up!

    Everyone the most boring person ever has some drama in his life, sprinkled in with the boring bits. That said, a good book will always leave us a little different than a so-so book. We'll also have grown and changed, along with the characters.

    Even Batman had lessons to be learned (although I confess, mostly what I took from the show was a taste for kinky costumes & bondage).

  5. Beverly, I only have one question for you.

    What in the heck were you reading as a child!?!

    Man!!! I love your energy!!!

  6. I saw that question too but I took it a different way because a book I pull somethings into books and sprinkle them into my life. I know that sounds a mess but I do. Only the good stuff, not the crazy blood sucking stuff.

    After reading The Help, I started a prayer book too. I need to update it but I love doing it! I think my habit of always having my toes done came from a Jackie Collins book. Not sure which one but I read a ton of her stuff in college and the male character was impressed that this plain Jane looking woman always had her toes done. And wham! I did it!

    PS I watched Wonder Woman all the time and had to have bracelets made of foil. hheeeehheeehehe

  7. Now Mocha Girl, this is really an inspiring comment. I must admit I have since revised my position on this one. As noted, I so obviously, without even realizing it, have become what I read. Like you too, mostly the good stuff. Just the other day someone said they see me as serious, when I was so sure I projected the opposite.

    Thanks for this... wow, talk about learning something new every day!

  8. I just re read my comment. Sorry for the mixed up sentence. I can not talk to someone and type a thought.

    I meant to say... I saw that question too but took it a different way because I pull some things from books and sprinkle them into my life. lol!!

    It is so interesting to me how small things have shaped and changed my life. Small things like words.


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