How does literature affect our way of thinking? 

Literature can be a very powerful weapon since the pen itself is said to be mightier than a sword. How does literature affect our way of thinking? I may not certainly be able to remember the number of my students who have asked me that, but I do know surely it’s a common question among lovers of literature. 

By the end of this article, you should be able to figure out how literature affects our way of thinking. But before then the first question to every reader here is – does literature affect our way of thinking? If your answer is YES, then sit back to first point out a few ways you already know, and if NO, you should keep reading. 

Of course, literature affects our way of thinking. One common myth among students in high (or perhaps we say lower) school is Maths and Physics being the most difficult subjects. That which seems a fact to many is no more than a myth to me. 

May I quickly share an experience that prompted this thought in me with you? One day while I was in Junior secondary school two, my Maths teacher referred to me as an encyclopedia and as a matter of fact, that was my first encounter with the word …but he did explain the meaning to the entire class and I was elated. 

This name was evident in me in my first year at the high school, SSS 1. All new students were to offer every subject together for the first term after which divisions to different departments will be made according to students’ performances. 

At the time, I was already aiming to be a literature student, so I didn’t take other courses too seriously. When the time for the division came, what seemed like magic to all is that despite my attitude towards the science courses, I had good grades in Maths, Physics, and Chemistry, alongside the courses in the department of my choice. The school has been dictating for students before me, but I was asked to choose where to major

This made me believe that no course is difficult, but literature can affect the way we think. Mathematics is so direct and you simply need to have a proper understanding of the formula required for any given problem. But despite being dynamic, literature on the other hand has no formula – have you ever thought of that? What other form can a course requiring critical thinking take?! In the blink of an eye, we shall have in front of us, an analysis of how literature affects the way we think. 

How does literature affect our way of thinking?

Learning about the past 

How does literature affect our way of thinking?

Soren Kierkegaard made us know that life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forwards. What do you think he meant by this? In my point of view, this simply encourages us to learn from our mistakes – remember mistakes only do exist in the past. 

Literature presents us with the lives of many (in the past) which could put us through the way in the near or far future time. 

I agree with that man who said your future is another man’s past – it may sound too blunt to many, but that is often the case. Come to imagine how you will live when you already see your future through the enhancement of your insight through some literary works. 

That is the first way I have come to understand literature affects our thoughts. And not only do we learn about the past, literature can affect our society today

Learning new things 

Literature can not only figuratively but literary open our minds to the world of different people. Salma Rushdie rightly said, “A book is a version of the world. If you don’t like it, ignore it or offer your version in turn.” 

When we write, we find ways to penetrate other people’s minds, but reading on the other hand makes us see the mind of other people through the eyes of the writer. 

Perhaps you have not discovered, but it stands that whenever we read new things, we learn new things which can eventually either positively or negatively change our thoughts. 

It forces us to use a more advanced range of vocabulary

How does literature affect our way of thinking?

The number of words an individual possesses to refer to something is called vocabulary. Idioms, proverbs, and other types of vocabulary that seem connotative or surreptitious are invented as a result of man’s interest in literature. Many believe the closer we get to literature the wielder we become in life. These are non-literature fans who perceive practitioners from a distance. 

This is what I learned from a Mathematician friend at the higher institution. He one day told me, “See Emmanuel, poetry is for the weird ones, in my opinion.” The comment came to me the first day he learned I am a poet. 

The reason for this is that traditional poetry (the way I’d like to call it) is for those in the game. Interpreting a poem properly can be relatively hard for a person unless he or she has been taught how to analyze it before. This is due to the strange choice of vocabulary in literature, which can ultimately change our sense of interpretation of the words we come about in our everyday life. 

Analyzing and Evaluating literary texts 

How does literature affect our way of thinking?

Whether constructive or destructive, we are open to new angles of life when we criticize because it means we must have thought deeply about the merits and demerits of any given topic to be sure the right judgment is passed. 

It can be quite herculean to analyze or even evaluate literary works, but when done for the love of literature, we are open to thinking more deeply and thereby widening our sense of judgment and critical thinking. 

Our way of thinking can especially be affected when we evaluate our literary works even before the alpha reader if any. Self-knowledge is important even in philosophy which prepares you for critical thinking.  

Making quick decisions 

Literature has taught us what other people’s lives, who did certain things were like, in ages past. This awareness helps us decide between rights and wrongs even before we are faced with such circumstances. Being able to quickly decide on what to do, where to go, things not to attempt, the consequences of those things, etc., is the power of literature. 

Remember the saying; there are two ways we can see as humans: through sight or insight. One is physical and the other is not, requiring knowledge and experiences to prefigurate, quite hypermetropically. 

Print Media 

How does literature affect our way of thinking?

You also want to agree with me that literature can be very powerful, changing the mindset of myriads of people when done on print Media. 

This is evident in the fact that the world has been responsible for the execution or preferably punishment of many Journalists, activists, and authors around the globe. 

Natalya Estemirova (July 2009), Guari Lankesh (Sept 2017), Jamal Khashoggi (Oct 2018), and Bill G. Biggart (Sept 2001), are some literature-print media practitioners who were reportedly killed based on the influence of their jobs. 

Similarly, in 1965, Nigerian Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka was sentenced to prison for a pen case under the administration of the then Prime minister, Yabuku Gowon. 


Literature is an old, broad, powerful, and indispensable human endeavor. It can also affect the way we think by leaving us to decide after reading any text. It is either you buy the ideas of a writer or you have your personal conclusion of a text – literature will just by every means, ensure you think outside the box, presenting two sides of everything to you, so that you may choose from. 

This brings us to the end of our discussion on how literature affects our way of thinking. If you buy this idea, kindly let me know in the comment below, and if you don’t, I would also like to have your side of the topic. 

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