to ask you why you read?

(114 Posts)

bit of a weird Q. But I've realised that I read for two reasons: to learn stuff (a lot is non-fiction), or just because it's a habit. I would feel strange without a book on the go, almost guilty! Which is crazy. And I don't think it's necessarily a good thing- means less time to absorb, to really think about what I've been reading, and it probably isn't doing my attention span much good- to always fill time like this. My mum always used to say "put the book down and MEDITATE for once" when I was a kid and I thought, that's for old people, but she has a point. I also have a funny sort of fear that I'm running out of time and I won't have time to learn all the things that I want to learn- which is silly. But every time I read a book, it makes me want/need to read ten more.
My dad reads anything, but mostly it's all historical. My mum doesn't read that much anymore except on her obsessions (we share this trait) but when she was younger it was all philosophy/C17-19th fiction. I read about specific interests and if it's novels, they're by people referenced in the history books I like as colourful characters.....

So why do you read? Do you think it's better to read slowly and take time in between the tomes, or do you always have several on your bedside table? Have you always been a reader, do you think it might be just as "bad" as screens and prolonged use of games consoles are if they get additictive.....so a bit of a two pronged question I guess. I'm interested in hearing people talk about reading tho, it's a nice benign friendly topic, and I know MN is book obsessed wink

RuleBritannia Sat 05-Jan-13 19:50:01

I read fiction for escape to another world. I read non-fiction to take me somewhere that I could go and sometimes do.

MammaTJ Sat 05-Jan-13 19:51:04

I read fiction as total escapism. I read non fiction to learn and broaden my mind.

Dawndonna Sat 05-Jan-13 19:51:05

To learn, to think, to be challenged, to escape.

MammaTJ Sat 05-Jan-13 19:53:03

I also often have an upstairs book and a downstairs book. I carry one in my handbag to read while waiting, waiting for buses, waiting for school to kick out and waiting in queues too.

motherinferior Sat 05-Jan-13 19:53:35

Because I am awake.

chandellina Sat 05-Jan-13 19:54:59

Fiction for pleasure, media and nonfiction for learning.

HumphreyCobbler Sat 05-Jan-13 19:55:03

I couldn't NOT read.

I am mystified by those who "Don't have time to read". To me, that is like not having time to breathe or eat.

Aha Donna! if I take out the comma..."to learn to think". Maybe not WHAT to think, but I definitely read to see if I can fall in with thinking patterns- whoever's- and what they could lead to....maybe I am trying to read too much like a historian, but there's something very powerful about being a writer....and hard to analyse how you might be subliminally influenced, or to work out what they really want you to think....well, I'll stop the rambly musings, but I did have a bit of a minor lightbulb moment with that phrase grin

Tee2072 Sat 05-Jan-13 19:58:09

I read because it is necessary to my mental well being. It makes me think, takes me places, helps me sleep.

I need it in the way I need food, water and oxygen.

peaceandlovebunny Sat 05-Jan-13 19:58:52

i don't read. its physically uncomfortable and i don't have time. also most stuff is rubbish. if i want to read, i read heidi. or some such!

So you think it's unique as a medium?

StellaNova Sat 05-Jan-13 19:59:44

Have you read The Child That Books Built? It's an exploration of why the author reads, and it really struck a chord with me as it mirrored my reading so much, so much so that I thought the author was a woman (Frances) rather than a man (Francis) for most of the book!

Basically he talks about the need to lose himself in a book, and the hunt for sensation/ an emotional fix, and how a book store is kind of like a drug store with each book containing a different kind of drug - I could relate to that. Also how he always has to have a book, even if just brushing teeth or something and sometimes choosing the right book to read for 30 seconds takes 5 minutes.

I will pick up a book that I have already read and open it at random, read a bit while I am in the bath or whatever, and then go on to another bit.

I do read properly as well!

alarkthatcouldpray Sat 05-Jan-13 19:59:51

To know that I am not alone (CS Lewis I think but true for me too).

deleted203 Sat 05-Jan-13 19:59:55

Reading is FABULOUS! It's DEFINITELY not bad (unlike TV/game consoles grin). Yes, I've always been a reader - I can't remember not reading. I will read the back of cornflake packets if there is nothing else. I couldn't bear to not have a book on the go. I have read many odd things in my time, simply because there was nothing else available (once went to stay with friends for the weekend and read a biography of Kenny Dalglish and 'Training Spaniels to the Gun' simply because that appeared to be the extent of their library and I'd finished the books I'd taken with me).

Of course it is doing your attention span good! Focusing on reading and taking in information can never be a bad thing. I'm pleased that 3 of my DCs are voracious readers and a little sad that DD2 (17) isn't interested at all. Also notice how limited her spelling and vocabulary is TBH and I think it's because she doesn't read much. I know she has had problems in answering exam questions in the past, purely because she hasn't grasped the question due to not understanding a word in it.

Wanting to read more books after you've read one shows that your imagination or curiosity has been stirred and excited and you are interested to find out more. How could this be anything other than wonderful? Books can take you to another place, another time, introduce you to concepts you'd never considered, inform, educate and entertain you. Books are cool!

Totally agree re reading and breathing being pretty much linked. I never, ever understand women who seem to stop reading when they have children. I don't think it sets a good example to the children either tbh.

I read rather than watch TV and tbh my hands feel empty if I'm sitting down and don't have a book in them. I usually have one fiction and at least one non-fiction on the go at any point, and tend to be a 'gobbler' in that I will read books v v quickly and then if I like it, go back and read it again fairly soon afterwards to appreciate it a bit better.

CombineBananaFister Sat 05-Jan-13 20:03:32

I read because it's a leisure pastime I can enjoy and immerse myself in for brief spurts and then put down due to having a very active 3 yr old ds. I can very rarely get into t.v because the characters seem so 1 dimensional and have no depth compared to a book and because I can't usually hear it. I am always disappointed and bored with film adaptations as I think your imagination does better work at visualizing it, it's good escapism. I have to have a litttle rest between books though as sometimes the story/characters stay with me a bit, god I sound like right nutter - am not honestlyblush

I've read 'The Child That Books Built.' I wasn't terribly taken by it though tbh - thought it was a bit trite. I think that's pretty much true of any reader though: reading is a personal experience between what the writer has written and how the reader personally experiences it from the time/place and emotional viewpoint they are in at that v precise moment of reading - so trying to articulate it is inevitably not going to mean a great deal to anybody else.

TheBOF Sat 05-Jan-13 20:05:07

I read "stuff" because I enjoy learning, and I think that fiction can also teach you a lot about the human condition and empathy, as well as being a form of entertainment and escapism. I think that reading fiction and non-fiction is a basic sign of being interested in the world and other people, and of course there is also the pleasure of immersing yourself in the nuances of language and appreciating its beauty.

It's all good; I can't see a downside.

Lovely post btw, SoWornOut.

^ I do agree so grin books are pretty damn cool

I just think we might get blinded by all the "ooh, words- CLEVER" noises and not realise that it might just be a distraction....I mean, wasn't it Socrates who once upon a time thought that writing stories and thought down in books would be the death of something wonderful- memory? And, well, how hard it would be to measure that, but I just think.....maybe distractions are not what we need in this super-"infomanic" age? Which brought me to wonder why we read, and if sometimes it's not why we think it is. Am I just jumping onto a bandwagon and not analysing the nature of this particular distraction, yes, probably!

If I ever have children, I will SO love to introduce all my books to them- I refuse to give any away (after ferocious culls in past which I totally regret now!).....

Second time I recommend this book: a "History of Reading" by Steven Roger Fischer for all you book-lovers cross history freaks!

Vagaceratops Sat 05-Jan-13 20:07:47

Non fiction for Uni
Fiction and some other types on non fiction for pleasure. At the moment I am reading about Edward I and I am loving it.

Mrsrudolphduvall Sat 05-Jan-13 20:10:06

Not to learn.
I read what I consider quality literature, rarely nonfiction.
I read for relaxation, as I don't watch much tv.
I don't have a smartphone to occupy me on the train.

I've read avidly since i was small.
I left my book club after 5 years as I hated dissecting books...i read at least 2 a week.

Combine, if a nutter means someone who has the ability to completely absorb the sense and atmosphere of a book and get lost in something....then yeah maybe you are one, and you can be proud of being one wink I like the idea of having a "little rest" between books!

I was always struck by something in the Chalet School books (yeah, yeah, another MN obsession!)- about Joey wanting her characters to go a certain way but being "forced" to have them go another way, and Elinor M. Brent Dyer talking about it being a sign of her being a true writer.....I think it's the sign of a writer who's a reader, really....yes, you can be super popular and know people and social conventions inside out, but you also learn an awful lot about people and human nature being holed up on your own with a novel or biography.

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