Why do you read?

If you're a bookish soul, I have a question for you...  Why do you read?  I'm coming to some interesting realizations about how unique each reader is, so I'm curious.  How would you answer that question?

I'd say I read because I love to disappear into a story - I'm more motivated by escapism than realism. But it is not just story. I also love words themselves and their infinite musical variety.  I like to see inside people's heads and understand human nature.  And I like stunning, grand, beautiful (even if bittersweet) closure and sense of purpose. I like neat little bows on things that never have neat little bows in real life. And I will also confess that I do read at night before bed because it puts my active mind to sleep like nothing else.

So what about you? Why do you read?  What draws you to certain kinds of books?


  1. I'm with you. I like the words, the style. I like to read something that I don't have to edit as I go along.

    "...puts my active mind to sleep like nothing else." I like that.

  2. I've felt for awhile now that one of the saddest things in life is that each of us in confined to our own narrow little perspective on the world. Books are the closest I'll ever come to seeing the world through a myriad of others' eyes. Creative non-fiction does this best for me, but fiction can do it, too. And the better written, the better understanding I have of that alternate view.

    And I always fall asleep, too, much quicker and more peacefully if I close the day by turning a few pages in bed before turning out the light.

  3. Oh my... there are so many reasons I read..

    1) I love to see the world and the people in it from various perspectives and time periods, and books allow me to go places I've never been, understand the viewpoint of the people and cultures that are there. I love it!

    2) I love to escape and suspend disbelief.. so much of how I spend my time is analytical, focusing on cause and effect.. and I enjoy just entering a whole new world for a while and enjoying the story.

    3) I love a well-written book. The words, the phrases, the concepts, and making it all eloquent and concise at the same time really does touch me deeply. There are some books I don't like on the whole, but grab a beautiful phrase from because it encapsulates the feeling so well.

    4) I always find it interesting how much I learn about myself when reading a book. Regardless of the actual story, it's interesting to "watch" how I respond to the characters, the situations, etc. If I have a particularly strong reaction (good or bad), I like to muddle it over and understand why.. also very interesting to see if or how that changes if I read the same book again.

    5) I love the ease with which I can focus and get completely absorbed into a good book. I have a hard time meditating, or staying on task in a multi-tasking world. When I read, it's exactly the opposite - it takes physical contact to "bring me to" at times because I'm so absorbed!

    I'm glad you asked! Answering the question was far more insightful that I thought it would be :)

  4. I couldn't agree with your reasons more. For me it is an escape... to be somewhere else to be someone else. I also read to feel. When i can relate to a character or an emotion, to fall into that feeling is beautiful.

  5. Oohh... great comments and insights. I love that everyone is different. This might be an oversimplification, but I think there is a scale of escapism and realism and different people fall in different places on that scale. It makes me wonder how it relates to personality type too. I'm a bit of a Myers-Briggs freak. It would be interesting to see a book personality type quiz!

  6. Interesting question, and it's one that I don't think I've thought about before. My parents instilled in me a love of reading from an early age, and so perhaps I've just always loved devouring new words and entering new worlds created for me by an author.

  7. I read for many reason. Mainly information and/or pleasure. I love a good story that I can get lost in. I am really into stories that embody a certain something. I never know what that something is until I am reading.

  8. Oh, wow. This is actually kind of a hard question to answer. It's like asking someone why you love your significant other. There are millions of reasons, and yet there are none, because you simply feel it and know deep down that it's love and pure and needs no explanation.

    So I guess I read because I can't imagine not having books in my life. They give me companionship, and they allow me to feel things I might not feel if I only had my limited experiences and perspectives to go off of.

  9. I read to absorb a story, the characters, the setting, the plot. I suppose it's like the character Mick in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers when she listens to Mr Singer's radio and tunes into what appeals to her inside room. Two of my favourite novels – The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver and The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin – if they were radio stations, they'd be the ones I'd tune into. Which is strange because I'm a visual person. I love movies, art and photos. I could spend hours at flickr taking in the beauty of the world.