Why do you read? That’s a question I get a lot, mostly because I have my nose in a book over 50% of the time. But really, why do I read? Here are just some of the reasons.
Books are great entertainment and they’re certainly better than what’s on TV 99% of the time. Hmm…’reality’ TV or a good book that makes me laugh, cry and genuinely care about the characters? I think that’s a pretty easy decision most of the time. Of course not all books are great books and some have certainly been much worse than reality TV, but there’s certainly less chance of being lied to constantly when you’re reading. At least most editors try to get their writers to stick to the facts, whereas most television shows seem to not care as long as they’re getting views.
Good books make you laugh at the characters’ antics, cry at their losses and your heart race when they are in danger. Movies have the advantage of visuals and audio, but books allow readers to (generally) see inside the characters’ heads and have more in-depth knowledge of what’s going on. I personally find it easier to connect with characters in books than in movies or television because of that, but that might just be me.
Every day for the past two years and seven months, I have woken up to pain and fallen asleep to pain. Pain is my constant companion because I have ‘chronic back pain’ with an unknown cause. Living in constant pain, while it’s certainly not comparable to some other chronic conditions, sucks. As much as I hate self-pity, I have to admit that when I have to modify everything I do because of my back, I feel pretty sorry for myself.
However, reading is an escape from the pain, if only temporarily. When I’m laying down (the least painful position) and reading a good book, I don’t even notice the pain crawling up my back throughout the day. I tend to stay away from realistic fiction, but if you give me a good fantasy, sci-fi or speculative fiction book I’ll read away the afternoon and forget my pain for a little while. It’s nice to slip into the skin of a perfectly healthy, pain-free character once in a while, which is why reading also provides me with an escape.
This one is not psychologically healthy by any stretch of the imagination. Yes, as I was being bullied, I turned to books for company because there were no people to turn to. Although I’ve generally kicked the bad habit of burying my nose in books rather than getting any social interaction, I still find that when I am lonely I will turn to books. Sometimes this is for escape, sometimes this is for straight up company. When the people in your life either hate you or love you but have no idea what’s going on, it’s nice to bury your nose in a book where the main character is going through a similar struggle.
That last point is why we have coming-of-age stories; they speak to teenagers who are struggling to grow up. Sometimes, in extreme cases, they become substitutes for human friends. As I said, this is not psychologically healthy, but are you going to tell a teenager or child who goes through a living nightmare every day at school that they can’t turn to books when they literally have no one else to turn to? I don’t think so.
Different people read books for different reasons. Although I had more to say on the more depressing reasons why I read, the main reason is because I enjoy it. I love being transported to other worlds and meeting all kinds of people and animals. Reading is fun or I wouldn’t do it, but points 2 and 3 are definitely some of the other reasons why reading is a big part of my life (although #3 is to a much, much lesser extent now).
Well, those are my reasons, but what are yours? Why do you read?