Posted by: eheino | November 28, 2013

Pleasures in Literature

Literature can give people pleasure in so many ways.

Nodleman and Reimer (2003, pp. 25-27) list more than 20 pleasures such as

  • the pleasure of having one’s emotions evoked
  • the pleasure of finding a mirror for oneself
  • the pleasure of words themselves- the patterns their sounds can make
  • the pleasure of escape- of stepping outside oneself
  • the pleasure of the pictures and ideas that the words of texts evoke allowing one to visualise people in places not seen before
  • the pleasure of newness- of experiencing different kinds of stories or surprise within a story
  • the pleasure of formula -repeating the comfortably familiar experiences

Barone also notes that one of the pleasures of reading comes from being able to engage in conversations around literature. (2011, p. 5) Literature circles, book clubs, and a range of Web.2 technologies encourage a deeper social engagement with literature thereby allowing readers to enjoy and appreciate a book more fully.

On that note, I recently joined a book club, and have found that being able to discuss the books I read to add a whole other element to reading. It has also given me the opportunity to read books that I would never have picked up of my own accord. These books, like Joyland by Stephen King and The Wire in the Blood by Val McDermid were an unexpected pleasure to read. They are both mystery novels which were very compelling in their own way. I found that discussing them with my friends in the book club helped me to notice and realise things about the book which I hadn’t picked up on myself. Novels can be quite complex, and different elements stand out to different people. The girls in my book club are all different to me, and therefore find different aspects interesting/annoying in the books we read, so engaging in discussion with them is always a rewarding experience.

As far as what books have given me pleasure? Generally I enjoy books which evoke my emotions, or introduce me to new perspectives I have not encountered in my own life. I also enjoy books which place me in a historically significant time/place. Some examples of books like this are Room – Emma Donoghue, The Bronze Horseman – Paullina Simons, A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini, My Sister’s Keeper – Jodi Picoult, The 19th Wife – David Ebershoff and The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold. Many of these books have characters that I wouldn’t meet in my life, but in turn give me an appreciation for their stories and experiences.

When I was younger I preferred books  that took me on adventures to different worlds. I liked Space Demons – Gillian Rubenstein, Finders Keepers – Emily Rodda, The Magic Faraway Tree – Enid Blyton etc. I guess this was the beginning of my appreciation for stories that gave the ‘pleasure of newness’.

I find that the stories that children most enjoy having read to them in the infants school would be stories with repetition patterns in the words, or that are funny. I imagine this is because these styles of stories can be appreciated by the whole class, so it is a better shared experience for the group. The class can laugh together at the funny parts, and identify the patterns together.

I wonder if this is a common pattern? I guess I will explore this further throughout this subject.

Reference List

Barone, D. M. (2011). Children’s literature in the classroom : engaging lifelong readers. New York: Guilford Press.

Nodelman, P., & Reimer, M. (2003). The pleasures of children’s literature (3rd ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.


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