In an age where easy-to-watch films are everywhere, what makes us continue to dedicate our time to reading books?
I was kindly invited to guest post on the blog Propaganda for Change. I tried my hand at a more scientific post that talks about the persuasive content hidden in the pages of our papery friends, using the impressive Hunger Games Trilogy as an example.
If you’re reading this, then chances are you like to read. And you almost certainly like stories.From an evolutionary viewpoint, the reason for loving stories is clear; prehistoric man could listen to his friend talking about a close encounter with a wolf in a cave and then he could use that knowledge to stay alive on his search for food. Stories were sugar coated pills of important information. They were also a way of creating beauty to bond with other humans and increase one’s survival (1). Even today, it’s a well-known fact that we tend to enjoy things that lengthen our lifespans–mother nature is funny that way.
Granted, the ‘don’t eat those red berries, because…’ story is extremely different from the modern fictional sagas, but we’re captivated by them just the same.However, this still doesn’t explain our love of books in particular. These days, most books have been turned into films, which require little effort or time to watch. Reading a 700-page book is an entirely different form of crazy. It requires days, and sometimes weeks, of dedicated page flipping. Why do we do this?One simple answer could be ‘the book is better than the film’. But why would we say this? What powerful force would make us struggle through not just one book, but a whole series because it’s ‘better’ than anything on the screen?I believe the answer is ‘persuasion’. The writer is trying, and often succeeding, to convince you that those 100,000 words are worth your time. Essentially, a book is a never-ending stream of propaganda that tells you to read more propaganda.