At university, I studied English Literature and Language so naturally a lot of people asked me why I like books. To tell the truth, I never read much when I was younger. It was probably only when I was about sixteen that I took more of an interest in reading. Three books which spring to mind that I read around that time were Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, Susan Collins’ The Hunger Games and a Nicholas Sparks’ Book (I can’t actually remember which one.) From then on it just became a bit of an addiction and now it is a hobby which occupies a lot of my spare time.
I’m sure I speak for all readers when I say that the question of why I read cannot be answered in a simple manner, but I hope to shed some light on my personal reasons.
Firstly, there’s the obvious: escapism. I think most people read to escape because it’s easy to get lost in a book and quite happily forget about the rest of your day. There’s a euphoria to exploring a world which someone else has created and feeling so consumed by it that it occupies your thoughts even after you turn the final page. It’s the same reason people watch films, or listen to music; by doing this we can appreciate the talent of another person and hopefully feel somewhat enriched or satisfied once we have finished.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that when I made the choice to read avidly, it altered the course my life has taken. From things such as my university degree, to the friends I have made and even this blog, reading has influenced how I have chosen to live my life. And I don’t think that is a bad thing. It’s nice to share a common interest with my friends and it is also nice to have a passion. Reading gives me drive. It fuels my ambition, whether that’s to write, to travel or even just to create a new blog post, reading plays a big part in my life.
I do read a lot, but I also write just as much. I do not believe for one second that anyone can be even a half-decent writer if they do not read. It’s like trying to play a sport without having ever seen it being played or ever being told the rules. So, whether it’s for inspiration or to just to find literary gems written by other authors, reading always provides me with new ideas.
My final reason touches on what I said a bit further up. A lot of the friends I have made over the last few years share my interest in reading; I very much enjoy having that in common with them and to be able to share opinions and remarks about old favourites or current reads. I believe that books are an incredibly powerful tool in uniting people. Take the most recognisable example of this: Harry Potter. Now, there are obviously some people who have somehow managed to get through their lives without being exposed to the books or films, but it is not ridiculous to say that they are in the minority. Strangers are only strangers until they have something to talk about and Harry Potter is always a good place to start. Even if you don’t like the series, or there are bits which you and someone else disagree on, the very act of your disagreeing allows you to become united. And I think there’s something quite beautiful about how one person’s idea can turn into the solitary thing two strangers might have in common.
I’m sure these reasons will not be the same as why other people read, but I would like to think that reading is an activity which, at its core, is carried out for pleasure, and that is what is most important, that you can enjoy it. All I know is, I will not be stopping any time soon. I would love to know what other people’s reasons are. So, enlighten me…
Why do you read?