Thursday, March 24, 2016

Stories are All We Are

I've never really been able to understand how people who don't read books negotiate life. Yes, it's true today we have to carve out time, we have to shut out distractions, but books and the world of books has been such a vital and affirming way to negotiate the world for me - and many people I know - my entire life.

And it's not news but science backs up the notion that reading helps us understand and empathize with people. It's no surprise that people who don't read generally (IMHO) don't know as much about the world. And while on the one hand, reading anything is better than reading nothing, I still think that it's important to read novels, at least some of the time.

This fascinating story in The Atlantic about writers writing on solitude really struck a chord with me. We learn so much about life, about politics, about culture, through the reading of novels, not even overtly political novels. When I think about the current election, for example, all the hyperbole and bluster and media-shaping and outrage laid to the side, I'd much rather have a well-read leader than one who's made a billion dollars on some business deal.

But I suppose I am in the minority.

All of this to say that we try hard at Blue Met to bring writers in who appeal to all kinds of readers: we have short-story writers like Danielle McLaughlin (Ireland) and Ayelet Tsabari (Canada/Israel). We have non-fiction writers who look at gun culture (A.J. Somerset) and writers like Gabriella Coleman who wrote a fascinating book about Anonymous and hacker culture. We have big sweeping novels that explore generations of women (Christine Dwyer Hickey), books that make the political personal in funny and moving ways (Carmen Aguirre & Sunil Yapa), books that are edgy and experimental and give us new ways of thinking about what a novel actually is (Valeria Luiselli's latest book in English) and poetry that tells stories in the shape and form of a novel. Almost (Anne Carson). We have First Nations stories and migrants to Canada stories. We have stories by young women still trying to figure out their place in the world and we have told from the perspective of animals that teach us what it means to be human. Stories on others' lives, stories about childhoods and growing up different, stories that show us how to live in a world that wants to ridicule, even when greatness is the result of that difference. Stories that explore new histories, whether personal or public, and stories which are simply funny.

For those who love reading, there is so much on offer, new stories to help us continue to  make sense of the world. For those who used to read more and want to get back into it, there are plenty of new writers to explore. Check it all out at our website and block off your calendars: April 11-17 get ready for a whole new set of stories.

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