April 16, 2008

Why do we read?

This is a non-meme that I saw first at The Hidden Side of a Leaf:

Like Dewey, I can't remember not reading. The family story is that I taught myself to read by being read to: mostly Dr. Seuss. My grandparents subscribed me to a book of the month club for kids, and my mother thought I was just memorizing the books. Until we got the new book one month, and I proceeded to read it to my little sister without having it read to me first.

But why do I continue to read? Why do I read every chance I can get, and feel "wrong" if I haven't read something in a while? Lots of reasons, of course, but three main ones:

1. I love words. I love playing with words, and seeing what other people do with them. I love how the change of one word in a phrase can completely alter the meaning.

2. I want to escape. I want to travel to other places and times and lives and see them from the inside. I want to explore worlds that we can never see: travel through space and time and encounter other people and see our life reflected in theirs. I think this is the main reason I loved reading as a child. I grew up in a small town, and reading allowed me to experience the outer world from a safe place.

3. I want to know things. I want to know everything! Before the internet, books were the only source of information. I used to (and still do) just browse in the nonfiction section of the library or bookstore and just pick up whatever catches my fancy, then read everything I can get my hands on about the topic until I feel I know "enough" to move on to the next thing. The internet has helped to fill this need for me, but books still are vital to me for this.

So what about you? Why do you read?


Dewey said...

Wow, your learning to read story is SO much like my son's. He was waiting for his father, who was talking to me, to read to him. He got impatient and started saying, "Dada, YOU say Farmer Bob feeds his sheep!" And he kept turning pages and going on. His dad thought he had just memorized the book until I told him it was a new library book. So much like you!

Alix said...

Nice post I read for similar reasons. Words and books are great aren't they.