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The Importance of Stories

Unlike most people, I don't think of Snape when I think of Alan Rickman. I think of Colonel Brandon.

Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon

As I searched for the perfect image to include in this post, I came across evidence that I am not alone in that feeling.

Gwendolyn Smith's remembrance of Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon highlights as well the truth of a quote of Rickman's that I've seen circulating since his death:

"And it’s a human need to be told stories. The more we’re governed by idiots and have no control over our destinies, the more we need to tell stories to each other about who we are, why we are, where we come from, and what might be possible. Or, what’s impossible? What’s a fantasy?” (From an interview with IFC)

Stories, and the way they're told, can shape our view of the world, whether they are non-fiction or fiction. They can help us understand ourselves and our world a bit better. They can let us visit and come to understand something about parts of the world that we may never get to see in person, and people who we may never meet. 

I think this is why I struggled so much when I felt I'd lost the time to really read after my kids were born. I am glad that I found short ebooks to help me come back to reading then. My kids are older now, and I have time to read longer books now, too. But I still love short ebooks. I think the reason reaches back to that Alan Rickman quote. The short ebooks I like best teach me something or show me a new aspect of our world. Because they are short, they can show me quirky little things as well as big important things. They can plant an idea or question in my head that I might have missed if it were included in a larger work that discussed other themes as well. 

To me, a good short ebook is like the distilled essence of some aspect of humanity or our world. It tells a story that I am better for having read. Alan Rickman had that quality as an actor, too. He could distill the important aspects of a role into their essence, and then infuse his performance with that essence, so that even if it was a character you knew from a book, he showed you what was most important about that character. I'll miss seeing him perform new roles, and will certainly revisit my favorite of his past roles. And I'll keep reading stories, because he is right, we need them.

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