Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Why do we read?

Book with daisies in garden

I saw an interesting question posed in a group the other day. The poster was asking people why they read and I thought, "huh, interesting" because I had to think about why I read since I read a lot and also have a book blog.

I think in order to answer the question "why do I read?" I have to go back to when I was a child. When I was a kid, there wasn't a lot of TV or devices or screens or whatever kids do to entertain themselves now. If I ever complained that I was bored, my mum would say to me "read a book." It was a common refrain in our house, something she said to all three of us kids but that advice only stuck to me. My brother and sister don't really read, though now, my nephew is an avid reader and he's insisting my sister read with him so she's reading a lot of his books too. It makes my heart happy.

But back to my mother's advice. She's say to us to read a book and I'd read a book. I was not always that obedient but this one stuck. I read a lot as a kid to entertain myself. I remember reading the entire children's encyclopedia which my parents bought us while waiting for them to come home from work to take us out or play with us. I'd lose myself in those colorful pages and learn lots of things along the way. They were some of my happiest memories. I think I would have been about eight or ten years old at that point.

Little girl reading with surprise face

Over the years, my reading habits have risen and waned depending on what was going on in my life. In my younger teens, I read a lot of fantasy fiction with the likes to Anne McCaffrey and David Eddings. Then in my later teen years I discovered Mills and Boon historical romances and they blew my mind. They took me to a whole different world and I was hooked. I remembered devouring every historical romance I could find in the library and reading my way through every Johanna Lindsey book they carried in their catalog. I loved the historical settings and learning about all these things that had happened in the past but with a happy ending.

As I got older, I went through a period where I didn't read as much but I still loved reading. If I close my eyes, I can still visualise my three black bookshelves full of books that followed me around from house to house during some very nomadic years. They were chock full of my favorite fantasy books collected over the year. In my early to mid twenties, I went back to reading more fantasy but then life overtook me and I didn't read for a few years. When I started reading again, I was reading more non-fiction, self-help books. I guess I went through a phase of finding myself. We all do that at some point in our lives, don't we?

In my mid-twenties, I took a job that sent me overseas for three years. I lived out of hotels and suitcases but it was quite an adventure. Most of the countries I lived and worked in were not predominantly English speaking countries so books were hard to come by. I remember having my boss bring me books and magazines while I was living and working in Cairo, Egypt from the US when he came to visit. After reading those books I left them in the apartment I was staying in for the next person to read if they wanted to since I couldn't bring them along with me. Those were fun because I never knew what books my boss would bring me. I can't even remember if I specifically asked for romance but I got a lot of romance and romantic suspense with the likes of Linda Howard and Karen Robards. I think my boss even read one or two of them on the plane flight over. I know for a fact that he did a few of the Cosmo magazine quizes and read those. 😄

Romance on blackboard with red heart

When I eventually got home from all the wandering, I was able to starting buying books to read again and it was then that I discovered Regency romance. I haunted the used book store and their romance section was my favorite. I discovered authors like Mary Balogh, Victoria Alexander, Julia Quinn, and Meredith Duran, to name a few. I devoured those books. At that point, I hadn't quite discovered series yet and was not quite as OCD about reading a series in order as I am now since I was picking up whatever was available in the used book store and they didn't always have complete series on their shelves. To this day, I haven't read the entire Bridgerton series and have jumped around reading only the ones I found in the used book store.

At the turn of the century, I discovered eBooks just as my shelves were full to bursting. I ran out of shelf space and eBooks seemed like such a revolutionary thing. Back in those days, over two decades ago (shhhhh.... don't tell anyone I'm showing my age) eBooks were in PDB format and the first eBook retailer was Peanut Press and they sold books that could be read on a Palm Pilot. I bought a Palm Pilot for both Steve and myself and we started reading eBooks on that. Then we graduated to a Life Drive and read on that till the early days of Amazon releasing the first Kindle.

By the time the Kindle came out, I had been reading eBooks for years. At about the same time, the Life Drive and the Palm products were becoming obsolete and Peanut Press got acquired by Barnes and Noble and they ONLY sold in the US so I was no longer about to buy my eBooks from them. Thank goodness Amazon was more global focused and I switched over to using the Kindle for my reading. A little while later, Amazon released the Kindle app so I could download the app to my then snazzy new iPhone 3 and read on that too. And of course, as they say, the rest is history. I've been happily reading on my Kindle app on my iPhone and iPad for a long, long time now.

eBook

After that long history of my reading habits through the years, I should probably answer the question why I read. I read because I love the experience of losing myself in another world. It's escapism and entertainment, but also I learn new things too. Authors put so much effort into researching their books and there is always some little tidbit or bit of information I learn. Of course, there are also new words to add to my vocabulary and I love the Kindle's built in dictionary so I can look up new words to learn their meaning.

Reading is my preferred way to spend my spare time. I try to fit in at least a little if not a lot of reading each day. Depending on the length of the book, I can read between a book every day to every few days. Of course, there are times when I'm not in the mood to read or I get distracted and end up scrolling Facebook, but for the most part I love losing myself in a book. When I'm not in the mood to read, I will watch some YouTube videos or maybe even some TV but that's rare. Books are always my first choice when it comes to something to do with down time. Or as I call it, my reading time.

Back to the original poster who asked the question, why do we read? Well, most everyone said they read to escape to another world. I guess when life becomes too routine and sometimes stressful, having the escape of a good book is a blessing. It can transport you to faraway lands, you can be a kickass heroine with a hunky hero falling for you, or a Regency miss on her first debut looking for a husband, an unassuming young woman going about her day when she's kidnapped by a strapping alien, or an archaeologist at a dig in some ancient city fighting off treasure hunters being protected by an alpha male. The possibilities are endless when it comes to all the different worlds books will open us up to. 

So here's my question for you. Why do you read?


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8 comments:

  1. Very interesting, for me my Mum had a book in her hand whenever she could so it seemed natural for me to do the same, I love travelling the world in books trying to solve mysteries, sitting on the edge of my seat with suspense and falling for the heroes I get to know, reading it the best it opens up a whole new world :)

    Have Fun

    Helen

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    1. I think we learn a lot from the example of our parents when it comes to certain habits. Though, that said, my brother and sister didn't catch the reading bug.

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    2. Yes that is true although two of my three sisters read and the other one will sometimes :)

      Have Fun

      Helen

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    3. Both my parents are still big readers. My dad is always asking me or Steve what we are reading.

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  2. I read to relax, and also because I love reading and the stories they give me. You're always learning.
    Malvina

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    1. Oh yeah, reading is fun and relaxing. I'm always learning something new with the books I read, especially about different professions where the characters do something that I'm not familiar with.

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  3. Oh good article. Not sure I could say why I read. I just do. Lol.
    Gill

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    1. And that's good enough that you do. xoxo.

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