For the last few years, I’ve read a lot more books related to business leadership, empathy and overall how to be a better leader within an organization. It’s what I studied in graduate school and continues to be something that I am passionate about in my current career and my personal development. Lately I’ve been reading empathy related books and it got me thinking about…
How well do we process the emotions of characters that we read about?
We all do this. You read a book and you feel the emotions you’re reading about, but only if you connect with and relate with that character, right? What about characters in stories that we don’t relate with?
It’s imperative that we stop and really try and understand all characters, whether we relate with them or not.
If the events of this year have taught me anything, it’s that I need to be more aware. More conscious of my environment and the people in it. Just because I don’t like someone, for whatever reason, doesn’t mean that I can’t stop and consider what they’re feeling or what their situation might be like.
I can think of a specific example of this too. Just a few months ago I was reading the Shadow of the Fox trilogy and there is a main character, Reika, who I did not relate with. When I finished the trilogy and wrote my review, I even called out the fact that I couldn’t relate with her or her experiences.
But does that make them bad characters?
Not one bit. What I should have done was taken a step back and really understood her for who she was. Not who I thought she was, but where she came from and what experiences in her life had influenced who she had become. Then I would have had a greater appreciation for the character and a much wider understanding of the important role she played in the entire story.
We must make it a point so read more empathically and consider characters that we read about. No differently than we need to do that in our lives.
Whatever you’re reading right now or will be reading soon, make it a point to think about each and every character in a more holistic way. This will broaden our understanding of the story we’re reading and help us in haveing an appreciation for every character.