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

HullyEastergully Sat 05-Jan-13 20:12:06

How would you ever know anything if you didn't read?

I have tried to answer this a few times but I can't seem to find the right words. So short and sweet will have to do.

I read because I can't stop.

Tee2072 Sat 05-Jan-13 20:15:32

peaceandlovebunny you realize you're reading right now, right? grin

I am grateful for being forced to read about some things- like History A level, didn't know what the USSR was hardly before we did it, except "it's something to do with Russia", and now it's one of my major interests. But can't stand discovering novels etc with a load of other people- and then being TESTED on it- awful. I'm usually terribly stubborn and refuse to engage blush I feel like an animal knowing it's going to be trapped in a cage. I want to flee! I like to be free in reading, it's my choice.

Level3at6months Sat 05-Jan-13 20:16:55

To escape into somebody else's world, to experience things in my head that I wouldn't in real life, to give me ideas of places I want to visit, things I'd like to do and people I'd like to be.

amillionyears Sat 05-Jan-13 20:24:27

I read non fiction.
I like to read real stuff that has presumably happened.
I like the pyscology of it all.
I cant get into much fiction. I do not have much imagination, and struggle to imagine things.

ScramblyEgg Sat 05-Jan-13 20:25:10

Because I love it.

Tralalalaha Sat 05-Jan-13 20:29:52

What in earth could I do with a smartphone that would be better than a good book? The only upside of my commute is the extra reading time. I can't remember not reading and wanting to read. I can't imagine not reading every day. It's a bit like asking why I breathe or talk or eat or sleep.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

To be honest I think non fiction requires at leas the same amount of imagination! With fiction, it's all about the image the author is creating- and it's like a nest, you have to relax against it and trust it and not try to poke holes in it.....it's like art, you need to be hit with the overall impression. Nothing is superfluous. It's hard for me to read fiction because I don't read in a very linear fashion- I look at the middle of a chunk of text, then the sides, top and bottom and zig zag down a page instead of reading word after word as they are intended to be read. I shouldn't do that, I'm not absorbing what the writer has made.
Well, that's my take. But if you're reading about say the Cuban Missile Crisis, it's incredibly hard to imagine why people got so hugely worried about it- because (usually) you haven't had that threat in your adult lifetime (especially people of my generation- hard to teach it in schools, the same way it's hard to get the message about global warming across to anyone nowadays!). Or if you're reading about something way back in history- wow. I find it very hard to get into anything about ancient civilisations, always have (unless it's about something I feel is relevant to me personally- i.e. Cleopatra I love, as a feminist icon). I think my imagination is limited in this. People like Mary Beard and my grandmother (read Classics at uni) are just amazing.

brighthair Sat 05-Jan-13 20:34:17

Because it's there grin
I read everything without knowing, back of cereal packets, road signs, estate agents phone numbers.. Been like this since I started reading age 2
I read at about 900 words a minute and have a freaky memory too where I seem to memorise useless crap (like estate agent phone numbers)
When I ran out of books Mum found me reading the Yellow Pages blush

I HAVE to read. I couldn't not

JethroTull Sat 05-Jan-13 20:39:07

Because it makes you think but it can also help you to stop thinking.
Reading definitely expands your vocabulary.
It helps to spark off new interests.
It can change your mind.
It stops you feeling lonely - when I was a student living in a foreign country I read so much, it made me feel happy finding a book in my own language.

cansu Sat 05-Jan-13 20:40:50

To destress, to calm down after a shitty day, to keep my mind off my worries, because I love it!

Reading does yes expand your vocab- also your decoding capabilities- excellent skill for learning languages! It's helped me a whole lot. People who say they're not good at languages- I wonder if they were intense readers during their childhood or not.

deleted203 Sat 05-Jan-13 20:44:50

Hooray! So many like minded people! I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees reading as being as essential as breathing. Brighthair you sound very like me - I read tremendously quickly, too and could happily read two or three books in a single sitting. I don't memorise phone numbers (completely discalcular I think), but I know all sorts of strange things, such as Pele's real name and the fact that bank robber John Dillinger played semi-professional baseball purely through reading about it.

There are some lovely answers on here!

As an Aspie I can't really easily get my head around the "essential as breathing" thing.....but I say YY to loving the random bits of info you pick up- though do have to be careful about not boring people with them- have any of you read "The Know it All"- like him!

I used to read the dictionary as a kiddy grin my degree is languages, and I still find using the dictionary so frustrating because I'm supposed to be using it for a single purpose, and all around there are so many delicious words to get distracted by.....

Roseformeplease Sat 05-Jan-13 20:54:28

Because I can't not read, it would be like not eating. I get scared and sort of ravenous when I don't have a book and, when I have a good one, I devour it.

brighthair Sat 05-Jan-13 21:00:10

I kept a diary for a year of every book I read, think I did 370 in a year blush
I definitely read without realising I'm doing it. Luckily I can use 4 local libraries and the lovely librarian removed the card limit so I can take as many as I like grin

coldethyl Sat 05-Jan-13 21:02:26

Like brighthair, I read because I can't bear not to. Right now, I don't have anything comfortable to read for amusement, alongside what I'm reading for information, but I still read old newspapers out of the composting drawer, backs of cereal packets, sets of instructions, DVD cases... will be returning to something old and well loved to read for comfort until I can get to the library.

Also, to channel the late, great, Mr Bill Hicks, I read 'because I don't want to end up a fucking waffle waitress'. It is the single greatest route to information and education, in my opinion.

brighthair Sat 05-Jan-13 21:04:30

I think a lot of it is down to my Mum but I was never "taught" as such
She used flash cards with me literally from 2 weeks old, read to me every day, decorated my room with letters and words and left me to it
I don't like being able to read like this, I won't read in public and it caused me nothing but problems at school sad

cinnamonnut Sat 05-Jan-13 21:05:06

Those I know who read do much better academically, in general, than those who don't. Even if they study science subjects.

lovelyladuree Sat 05-Jan-13 21:09:24

I cannot bear any fiction. I have read so much and so much of it is shite. Now I read history, art and antique books.

PrideOfChanur Sat 05-Jan-13 21:13:31

grin My first reaction was that that that is liking asking why do you breathe,or eat! I'm glad I'm not alone in that.

But: For entertainment,for escapism,to learn,to see life from a different viewpoint,to experience places/people/activities I am never going tio experience in RL, to stop my mind from grinding to a halt...

Reading quickly or slowly depends on the book,but I don't see why you'd need a gap between books (or how I would ever manage that myself)

I do think the escapism aspect has the potential to be problematic,and I've discussed with a friend how we know we are becoming overstressed if the reading becomes completely obsessive,but even if you are using it as an escape ,you are gettiing benefits from it.
I do think that is different from screens or games consoles - in my experience over use of screens leaves you feeling bleurgh and stale in a way that reading doesn't.

Really, cinnamon (hallo btw!)? I hated school/exams, did pretty poorly as a result and I read like a mad thing. I DO think the two are connected. I simply could not fit in, I was completely a square peg in a round hole. I don't think the current means of assessment in British schools, at least, really accommodates a lot of the qualities that reading might instill in you.....you still really have to become comfortable with the kind of thinking that the examiners look for. I think for some school systems, yeah, reading will really help you, but not necessarily this one. But then I have a bit of a bugbear there blush as you might be able to tell! ha

Actually, during the awful A level exam period last year I read a book or more a day during the runup- really helped me create a barrier between work and anything else, and disconnect. I spose that's probably escapism!

ouryve Sat 05-Jan-13 21:15:57

I stopped reading much for a long, long time. I have problems with the joints in my hands and have always struggled to hold a book open.

Then I got a Kindle grin

Now i read to relax, rather than just for information.

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