What does reading do?

Richard Wright, 1943“She whispered to me the story of Bluebeard and His Seven Wives and I ceased to see the porch, the sunshine, her face, everything. As her words fell upon my new ears, I endowed them with a reality that welled up from somewhere within me. She told how Bluebeard had duped and married his seven wives, how he had loved and slain them, how he had hanged them up by their hair in a dark closet. The tale made the world around me be, throb, live. As she spoke, reality changed, the look of things altered, and the world became peopled with magical presences. My sense of life deepened and the feel of things was different, somehow. Enchanted and enthralled, I stopped her constantly to ask for details. My imagination blazed. The sensations the story aroused in me were never to leave me. When she was about to finish, when my interest was keenest, when I was lost to the world around me, Granny stepped briskly onto the porch.

“‘You stop that, you evil gal!’ she shouted. ‘I want none of that Devil stuff in my house!'”

Richard Wright, Black Boy (American Hunger): A Record of Childhood and Youth (1945), p.39.

Okay, he wasn’t doing the reading. But this is the event that made him want to read.

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