“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.”
A wise word for readers and for writers! Do we want books that sooth and tell us what we already know, or books that shake us to the core and lead us to rethink and change?
A Facebook friend posted this Kafka quote, after I linked to Rachel Held Evan’s latest blog, “I love the Bible.” I think this is one of her best to date and one that will make us think.
As another FB friend rephrased Kafka,
Amen to that!
Note: Franz Kafka was one of the major fiction writers of the 20th century. Born to a middle-class German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, Bohemia (presently the Czech Republic), Austria–Hungary, his unique body of writing—mainly published posthumously—is considered to be among the most influential in Western literature.