“We are not content to be Leibnitzian monads. We demand windows. Literature as Logos is a series of windows, even doors. One of the things we feel after reading a great work is ‘I have got out’. Or from another point of view, ‘I have got in’; pierced the shell of some other monad and discovered what it is like inside.”
– C.S. Lewis
You might know the Lion or the Witch and even the Wardrobe. If you don’t, you should just know that any wardrobe is a very foolish place to shut oneself into, but there’s a magical one. One in Professor’s Kirke’s house that links Earth to the world of Narnia. And there’s a million others that look like a pile of paper glued together. Once you get in any of those wardrobes, you get out of the and you’re immediately stepping different worlds.
And you can try to get back to each of those worlds someday. But you can’t try to use the same route twice. You can’t try to get there at all, to be fair. It will happen when you’re not looking for it. And always in a different way.
Isn’t it interesting that C.S. Lewis turned his idea about reading into a story? Reading Life: The Joy of Seeing New Worlds Through Others’ Eyes, is a collection of essays and reflections by C.S. Lewis about reading and the joy of books. In one of them he talked about how he sees reading as a window, or a door, or (I’d say) wardrobes (why not) to a different world outside the capsules and bubbles of our selves.
After reading this book I felt a new energy to keep reading. I was back to the Narnia of my motivation to read, to encourage reading and to improve this amazing skill. It renewed my joy of writing about books and stories.
Read the book if you’re not sure about why you read. Or if reading turned into a dull passive task instead of an joyful trip— which is more like it, if you ask me.
And yes, it’s true, you can’t go back to it, let it find you instead, when you’re not looking for it. And it’s also true that you can’t make the same trip twice. The route is never the same. The landscape will change, everything will change when you reread.
But do it. Go find wardrobes. I’m here to tell you today, Go read more, go find the windows and doors to different worlds, and go see with other eyes and imagine other imaginations to improve, to grow, to be more than yourself, to discover what reading is really like. That’s what good reading does.
What happens to you when you open a book?