Why Even Bother to Read?

Why do you read books? It seems like such a simple question, but I have yet to find anyone with a simple answer. My interest in books seems to be similar to my interest in video games, which I guess makes sense since it was video games that got me into reading. I love fiction and urban fantasy is my crack. Traditional fantasy is great, too. I’ve read a great deal of fiction, but the further I go into adulthood, the more people tell me they don’t read fiction. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with non-fiction. To each their own. It just so happens, though, that most of these non-fiction readers need a reason to read. There must be some issue, some problem or some scientific phenomena they are curious about before they pick up a book. While I enjoy those books, too, learning has never been my reason for reading. All this has left me to wonder, why do we read? Am I a majority or minority?

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36 thoughts on “Why Even Bother to Read?”

  1. Used to read a lot, now I just read blogs when I can. Newspapers what else, right? And the occasional book that comes along that can hold my attention. (that is where the real problem is).

  2. All of the above. I don’t read fiction nearly as much as I used to (I used to go through two or three fiction books a week, now I’m lucky to get one in a month). This is a time constraint. I’m always learning new material so I often have a work related book close by. I also am fascinated by the world so I might have a history book or a science book close. When I do read fiction it is escapism.

    Some people take adulthood too seriously. I’ve joked that I like to shovel snow because it’s the only way an adult is allowed to enjoy a winter’s day. Hey, I’m not shoveling, I’m playing in the snow in an organized manner. Adults are supposed to have a purpose for everything they do. They aren’t supposed to play. Some people think reading is “play” and thus a waste of time. Of course this is wrong on both counts.

    I believe adults have a need to play just as much as kids do. I believe adults need to be able to escape. They need to learn and explore new territory. They need to make their synapsis work in a way TV just can’t do. They need to do things they enjoy. If they enjoy reading for reading’s sake, then let them! There doesn’t have to be a reason for anything we do.

    1. I agree. People take adulthood way too seriously. I will personally never let go of video games, comics and anime. Life has made it harder for me to engage in those things, but I still love them. I refuse to let go. In college, I was able to read 50 books a year. Now, I struggle to reach half that. I’m going to keep working on it, though. I just enjoy reading far too much to give it up.

  3. Other (I’ll explain in the comments) :

    I don’t read much, when i do it’s on the net or in the new’s papers in metro/bus.

    We are in the electronic era.. I think it’s a waste of trees.
    “That comes to about 60 100-page books per 10-inch diameter tree. Most of our library books are at least 300 pages, so that brings the calculations to maybe 20-30 books in a 10-inch thick tree. ”

    Electronic books that can be read by the Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader and others, not only use less paper, but also are much cheaper than the same books in printed form (the electronic readers are expensive though). Of course, “reusing” a book by borrowing it from the library..

    The downside of all informations/books/data being electronic, would be.. In an event of a huge solar magnetics storm and huge E.M.P, data all over the world would be erased/destroyed… If not well protected…

    1. I suppose I see the waste, but I just can’t. I love my paper books and refuse to let them go. I will have a giant library in my house someday and live in bliss. Besides, I’ve seen some studies that claim people read slower and/or retain less information when reading on an ereader. That’s too big of a risk for me… though even without that, I’d still prefer my physical books. It’s probably an obsession…

  4. I still love to read. There’s something about a paper book that makes me happy although these days I only buy paperbacks of my favourite authors.

    I also have audio books that I listen to while I’m making toys, etc.

    And I read because for me it’s an escape. Into another land and it’s usually a really fun journey.

    1. I have defiantly started to buy books less often. I need to finish reading what I have. My library used to do this thing where you could fill a gerocery bag and pay $1 for it. If there were only one or two books I wanted, I fill the rest of the bag with things that looked even mildly interesting.

      Did you know there is a perfume for the smell of books? Cost too much for me, but I love it. The feel, smell and experience of a paper book just can’t be replaced.

      1. A perfume? Really? Wow, had no idea!!

        Yeah I’m buying books less often too. I’m only buying my favourite authors these days and there rest go on my kindle. Which is sad because I used to love taking my box of books to the used bookshop to trade them for new books!

  5. Everything! From Biographies to Teen Fiction. Reading is enjoyable no matter the genre or subject and I despise these Kindles nowadays because there is nothing like going to your own bookshelf and plucking a worn book that has coffee stains and revisiting the world you had once lost yourself in.

  6. I have been a life long reader. I can’t imagine not having something in my hands to read. I go to the doctor’s office and take something to read while I wait. I don’t understand people who can just sit there for 20-30 minutes. Reading is how I learn. Reading is how I escape. Reading is how I experience different worlds and peoples and everything that could be about the human existence. I can’t imagine life without reading.

    1. Amen to that! Whenever I need a new purse, I have to make sure it’s at least large enough to fit most books I will read. I don’t go anywhere without something to read.

  7. I read to escape most, and that’s what I ticked, but I also read to learn. I don’t think that the two are always separate either – even the most escapist fantasy can help you to reflect on how people think or how the universe works and become a learning experience.

    1. I agree. I think fantasy shows us a lot about ourselves. A lot of my own book ideas are fiction, but their based on real life ideas I ponder. I want reading them to get people to look at their world a little differently because that’s what fiction often does for me.

  8. A long time ago someone told me to read the good stuff in order to write the good stuff. Not that it made much of a difference, though… I’ve been book obsessed for as long as I can remember. 🙂

    1. Yes, I have heard that too. I do try to do that, but I don’t like a lot of the suggestions I see to “read like a writer” I read for fun. It already inspires me. I don’t have to read differently to get what I need from a book.

  9. I voted: “I read to learn. If I can’t use what I read in every day life, why read it?”

    I am not against fantasy or reading for pure entertainment, but usually video games are my relaxation thing while reading or listening to podcasts is about problem solving.

    1. I can see that. Myself, reading and video games are my escape. Video games are what started my reading habit, so they’re very much connected in my mind.

  10. I am a frustrated voracious reader in that I love books and reading with a passion but no longer have the free time in which to just sit and read and I am so zonked at night time that I often fall asleep with a book on my head. The glamour of my life!

    In terms of fiction and non-fiction, I find I am now evenly split between the two. When I was in my teens and twenties, I read far more fiction that non-fiction (partly because my university degree was in Literature) but when I transitioned into teaching literature rather than studying it I began to read more non-fiction, especially history, in order to build my knowledge of the context of the works of fiction I was studying and/or teaching and gradually that ratio has shifted so that I am probably at a 50/50 split now. As with fiction, I read any non-fiction that happens to interest me. I particularly enjoy history books but I also read a great deal of art and photography books. There are also non-fiction books that I read because they intersect with my hobbies (family history, art, photography, movies, the history of plagues, the history of sideshows and freaks). I am one of those people who often has several books on the go at any one time and I suppose I pick up the book that most suits my mood at that very moment.

    1. I can be much the same. My parents used to lecture me that I only needed to bring one book on vacation, but I protested that I didn’t know what mood I’d be in along the way. Maybe I’d read this one or that one. Now, I keep what I read down to two or three at a time, but it wasn’t uncommon for me to have four or five books with me on long trips as a child.

  11. I read (fiction) because I enjoy the stories. I like immersing myself in the world of the book. I also go periods without reading because I have poor impulse control and tend to get obsessive with my reading. After awhile, I feel the need to stop and take care of the neglected parts of my life. It’d be better if I could find some balance.

    I also sometimes read non-fiction if I am interested in the topic being discussed (usually religion), but I typically have to stop reading any fiction during that time because the fiction book is always more interesting and thus the one I always choose.

    1. I used to get that obsessed. Richelle Mead is about the only author who does that to me anymore. When she comes out with a new book, all other areas of my life suffer. It’s actually been a while since I’ve read non-fiction, so I don’t know how it compares. I read non-fiction slower, that’s for sure. I don’t know why that is, though.

  12. College (and then grad school) soured me on reading. I read now only if I need new knowledge, for example right now I’m immersed in non-fiction tomes on narcissistic personality disorder (I’m convinced my ex-lover is one). I also find it a very sedentary activity (hey, that’s an oxymoron phrase)…I just can’t bear to sit still. But good on you for loving the written word, TK! It definitely shows in your writing.

    1. I know people who hate sitting for long periods of time and don’t read much for that reason. I get that. I tend to have the opposite problem. Lots of my favorite activities involve sitting. That doesn’t do my fitness routine any good.

  13. I read because I find it relaxing! It’s like watching tv or watching a movie but so much better cause you get the real details and really get involved with the characters. It’s like you become a part of another world for a little bit. Not saying that as an escape, just stating that you get so much more out of reading than watching that same thing in a movie.

  14. I have read books since 8 or 9 years old at that stage just fiction, but now I read everything from crime, fantasy, biography, historical fact, fiction and faction even technical manuals. I read both electronic and still purchase hardback/paperback.
    I have also discovered books I may have missed out on through either not being what I would normally read or knowing knowing about it, through social media like twitter, offer me a few free chapters to try it and I’ll give it a go 🙂
    Having said that I do tend to go through stages of either reading voraciously that is several books a month, (real life has to kick in now and again), to maybe taking several months to finish one book.

    Paul

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