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Reading Chat Monday: What Fictional Character Has Changed Your Life?

Monday, June 11, 2012

A couple of weeks ago, I read a blog post on Jezebel.com that poses the theory that the connection we have with fictional characters can change our lives.

Geoff Kaufman, a post-doctoral researcher at Dartmouth College, and his co-author Lisa Libby, from Ohio State University, suspected that as people read fiction they tend to live vicariously through their favorite character, which involves understanding the character’s emotions, thoughts, and beliefs. This process is called “experience-taking,” and the researchers found that it can lead to actual changes in the real lives of readers.
~“Do Your Favorite Book Characters Change Your Life?” by Cassie Murdoch

Which leads to our Reading Chat question for today:

Is there a fictional character that you’ve connected with on such a deep level that it’s changed you as a person?

Think specifically about a character not an author or a story.

This can mean that you changed the way you view or think about an issue—or even about God. It can mean that you’ve changed the way you do things. It can mean that it’s challenged you to be a better person. It can be major and life-altering changes, or it can be something as simple as picking up a hobby or habit—such as knitting or calling your grandmother every Sunday afternoon because a favorite character did that.

So . . . let’s chat!

12 Comments
  1. ausjenny permalink
    Monday, June 11, 2012 4:02 am

    On character I identified with and gave me hope was Aunt Louise in Simply Mayla by Virginia Smith (may have the title slightly wrong) She was only a secondary character. She looked after her mother, Mayla’s grandmother and was manipulated by her. She would use emotional blackmail to stop Louise doing things she didn’t want her to do. In the book Mayla is staying there and sees it and sees it as manipulation and helps Louise. Louise is in her 40’s and at the end she has more freedom and looks like she may even get to marry.
    She gave me hope that I could find someone even while being a carer for my mother. I also know how it is to be manipulated like Louise was. She may have only has a small part of this book but she impacted on me.

  2. Vanya permalink
    Monday, June 11, 2012 5:11 am

    All the characters in the movie Blind Side made a big impact, but the mother (her name eludes me) was especially inspiring. Made me stop and think if I would have done the same in her shoes.

    • Vanya permalink
      Monday, June 11, 2012 5:22 am

      Okay, I just realized that the Blind Side is a true story. Duh! FICTIONAL character would be Reepicheep. His speech about his desire to see Aslan’s kingdom (Heaven), and how he views it as an adventure always serves as a reminder to me of what’s really important.

  3. Jenn permalink
    Monday, June 11, 2012 6:59 am

    As a very young person, the Little House series & Anne of Green Gables series both impacted me deeply; the Love Comes Softly series at a slightly older age–the moral (ie: biblical) values, the gentle country atmosphere, and the tenacity of pioneering all instilled a desire to live similiarly as my “heroes”.

    • Monday, June 11, 2012 8:28 am

      Jenn, the question is: What character changed you? Is there one character from those stories that you connected with on so deep a level that it changed who you are as a person.

      • Jenn permalink
        Monday, June 11, 2012 11:40 am

        So sorry…Laura, Anne, and Marty

  4. Monday, June 11, 2012 9:39 am

    Laura Ingalls Wilder
    Not sure if it was just her amazing writing and story, but I feel like we have the same personality – the desire to be sweet and patient like Mary, but too full of fire to be that perfect. I guess I did live through her, too. It never occurred to me that I spent most of my childhood inside with my nose in a book because I ran free over the prairie with her.

  5. Monday, June 11, 2012 10:16 am

    valancy stirling from the blue castle. i read that book as a pretty sheltered and timid minister’s kid who always felt a need to do and say the right thing…. and then i met valancy: a TOTAL soulmate and found a backbone :)

  6. Monday, June 11, 2012 1:11 pm

    For me it was the alchemy of White Fang and Jane Eyre– I got the unabridged books on tape from the library at the same time– I was 19.

    White Fang (the animal)’s “law of life” was that to survive every Life must dominate those weaker and submit to the stronger. And seeing it so bare and laid out was hugely convicting– I realized that I lived that way, and it shamed me (maybe just in time to try and resuscitate a relationship with my younger brother).

    At the same time, “meeting” Jane Eyre (the young woman, and just my age) who could be so many “conflicting” things, primarily impassioned and principled, simultaneously, filled me with a hope I didn’t know how to name at the time. Today I’d call it ‘validation’.

    I think it was the combination of these books that reached me so deeply: Seeing my own ‘wildness’ taken to different extremes and wanting to be “good.” Wanting to take the ‘parable’ of White Fang as a warning and, frankly, throw myself on the mercy of God, trusting him to work out my ‘happy ending’ where I didn’t have to be either unprincipled or passionless to find my place in the world.

    It was a good age to be getting both messages.

  7. Dora permalink
    Monday, June 11, 2012 2:54 pm

    I can’t really say whether a character changed my life. However, a book by Beverly LaHaye (spelling is not a strong suit) did change a belief I held. I, at one time, did not feel that being married to an unbeliever would be a problem. While reading her series (can’t remember the title), I found that I could never commit to a relationship where my partner did not believe as I did. A partner who has a relationship with Christ is now a must for me.

    • Dora permalink
      Monday, June 11, 2012 2:56 pm

      Although, at this point, I have begun to believe finding a partner will never happen, let alone one that does or doesn’t follow Jesus.

  8. Thursday, June 14, 2012 10:31 am

    Hazel, the Chief Rabbit, in Watership Down. His leadership and “people” skills are something to aspire to, thirty years after I first read the book. A beautifully told story, I try to read the book at least once every other year. The characters and story resonate deeper with each reading.

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