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Orson Scott Card: Books are good or bad depending on how you read them

Published: Thursday, Aug. 25 2011 5:30 p.m. MDT

M: So far all you've told me is reasons why "Twilight" isn't as bad for you as it could be. That's like saying the milk isn't so very sour. If that's all you've got, why did you drink it so avidly?

E: Because "Twilight" isn't sour at all. It's good. It really is!

M: That's how you feel, but can you tell me why?

E: How about this? Edward protects her while she's still too young to know what she's doing, but when she's ready, he'll make her immortal and let her share his life.

M: I don't know that everybody would be comfortable with the idea of Edward the vampire as a Christ figure.

E: Well it's kind of a cool idea, in an English-class-ish way.

M: Even if you can find a symbolic reading of a book that fits with the gospel, I don't think that's the real test.

E: Then what? I really care about this.

M: Yes, the story made you care. Think back, though — what did it make you want to do, to be, to become?

E: It made me want to love somebody the way Bella loved Edward. With her whole heart.

M: You don't need a book to make you want that. I mean, you're 15.

E: But it also made me want to find someone who deserved that kind of love and trust. Someone I could count on, someone who wanted to make me happy and keep me safe — even from himself.

M: So maybe that's why "Twilight" was a good book — for you, the way you read it. It made you desire good things, and it helped you recognize what they are.

E: So it wouldn't necessarily be good for everyone.

M: A bad reader finds bad even in the best books, and a good reader finds whatever good there might be in bad ones.

E: And talking about it with you really helped me sort this out. Thanks, Mom!

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