“The experience of reading a novel has certain qualities similar to mythology. It can be seen as a form of mediation. Readers have to live with a novel for days or even weeks. It projects them into another world, parallel to but apart from their ordinary lives. They know perfectly well that this fictional realm is not ‘real’ and yet while they are reading it becomes compelling.
A powerful novel bcomes part of the backdrop of lives long after we have laid the book aside. It is an excercise of make-believe, that breaks down barriers of space and time and extends our sympathies to empathise with others’ lives and sorrows. It teaches compassion, the ability to ‘feel with’ others. And, like mythology, an important novel is transformative. If we allow it do so, it can change us forever.”
– Karen Armstrong