We read to know that we are not alone.
I remember hearing that quote in the movie Educating Rita nearly 40 years ago, and I’ve spent an adult lifetime learning how true that is. When we read, we hear of the struggles, challenges, joys, and victories of others. We relate to their anguish. We rejoice to hear news of victory. To read the words of another, beset with the same foibles and sorrows as we, is to connect into community. The writings of others build bridges between our mortal souls and theirs. In excellently crafted novels we identify with a hero or heroine as that person struggles against the world, and we ourselves grow and change. Perhaps we learn from events in the plot how to handle situations in our own lives better. Perhaps we relax a little more, just knowing that someone else has faced the same uphill climb of struggle that we are facing now—and that they made it.
New England has produced great classic writers, from Jonathan Edwards, a great genius-level theologian of the 18th century, and authors of famous novels like Nathaniel Hawthorne, to famous hymn writers like Fanny Crosby and Katharine Lee Bates. The writings of these faithful New Englanders have informed and inspired our nation for centuries. Their writings are a national treasure.
We write to let others know that they are not alone.