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Why Do We Love to Read?

 I know, I know – for some of you, the question is pointless.  We read because it’s necessary, like eating and breathing.

However, I’m sure you have some friends who don’t read at all, or at least not frivolous things like novels.  Some of my friends tell me that they only have time to read practical books – to advance their careers or make them better parents.  And we sort of look at each other funny.  (P.S.  I admire their devotion to duty.)

But for those of us who really, really love to read – why is that?

Let’s come out and admit that escape has something to do with it.  Even if you have a great life, sometimes it’s nice to inhabit another one.  And if you’re going through a bad time, well, let’s just say I went through a spell where I was reading three mystery novels on my day off.

And then there’s the vicarious experience aspect.  A book takes away our time and space limitations.  We can visit the past or the future, travel to an exotic locale, or imagine what it is to be an athlete or a soldier or a monk.

I’ve also heard it suggested that reading is a form of meditation.  We can certainly find inspiration in reading.  And let me say that I have learned a lot of what I know about history, culture, and criminal investigation by reading fiction. 

But I think the most important reason I read is for meaning.  I believe that when an author writes a book, he or she does it because they want to say that there is something meaningful about how people live in the world.  And we can learn from that.  In a world that often seems random, it’s wonderful to have recourse to the world of books.

How do you feel about this?  Maybe you love to read for an entirely different reason.  I’d love to hear from you!

The Book Goddess


1. shy to reveal - September 21, 2007

Fiction, while it certainly evokes feelings and thoughts, is not “real”. I read non-fiction ONLY not for my career’s sake but because I like to learn something meaningful, factual, real. It can be a biography, a popular book on any science subject, religion, – anything. Would it make you look at me “funny”?

2. bookgoddess - September 21, 2007

Dear Shy –

Thank you for commenting – it’s very gratifying to know that someone cares enough to respond to my post.

In classical thought, the point of literature was to instruct and to edify. I think that’s a pretty good goal for a writer and a pretty good standard for a reader. We may make different choices in what we read – I’m basically omnivorous, myself – but I think we are both reading to expand our horizons.

I’m just happy when people are reading!

The Book Goddess

3. telliesmingus - February 26, 2008

I read both fiction and non-fiction. I often tell my friends and family that I “devour” books. Primarily I read non-fiction for one very important reason- knowledge. I have learned so much just from reading a book cover to cover than most ordinary people learn in a lifetime. I’ve shared experiences with and been inspired by authors who have been brave enough and kind enough to share their lives with me.
I read fiction to feed my imagination and it is often ravenous. I open the book and find an amazing world where anything is possible and I become a part of it. I make deep connections with the characters if it’s written well. I have been known to close a book and break down into tears. I always finish a good fiction book with a feeling of sadness. It saddens me to leave it behind and come back to this world and it’s problems.
Last, but most certainly not least, I read poetry to gladden my heart and give my soul wings. I have learned to sympathize, to feel pity and be humble thorough poetry.
I know people who do not open a book unless it’s required. They dread reading like it’s some kind of capital punishment. I’ve never understood that train of thought. I feel sorry for a person who does not have this library of knowledge at their fingertips or no means to escape the stress of life in these times.

4. Ash - November 16, 2008

I’m 17 and i have been reading since for as long as i can remember and i do it so much that i often fet into trouble for it especially during math class. Thanks to your article i was able to convince my friend to read and now she reads more than i do! I just wanted to thankyou for not only helping me open her mind but also putting all of my feeings into words which i find exceedingly difficult to do.

5. AJ's mom - December 28, 2008

One of my earliest memories is my father taking me to the library. I was four years old. I even remember the first book I “read”. It was a book, only pictures, about knights and fair ladies. I was bitten by the bug.
I consider the love of books, no matter what form, the greatest gift my father could have ever given me.

6. Dave - February 6, 2009

Hey Tina,

I read because I must — but that’s kinda vague. The art of reading is part of my life’s journey, but please allow me to tell you how I journeyed here…

I just completed reading River of the Golden Ibis by Gloria Jahoda. I wrote a comment in the back of the book this morning that mirrors one of your own reasons to read. I elaborate here: http://www.daverothacker.com/rothacker_reviews/2009/02/the-hillsborough-river.html Anyways, I became inquisitive about Gloria and Googled her. I noticed that your post on Happy B-Day Fla came up and I also noticed that you use WordPress. So I clicked on your site.

…and then I saw Why Do We Love to Read? Wham! I discovered a soul sister! I primarily read non-fiction but read fiction to help my writing voice from getting to old-cootish and crotchety.


7. Roxanne Birney - February 20, 2009

I love to read because I am a storyLady and there is no greater pleasure to me than seeing the children faces and parents smile and enjoy a story read to them. I’m always learning from the authors, illustrators and am grateful for the opportunity and my elementary teachers and parents who began the life long process of enjoyment I find in reading.

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