This is a post inspired by… well, by a lot of things. For one, I’m always going to be a fan of reading. I mean, really, that’s a big part of why I write. If I hadn’t grown up a reader, raised by a reader, devouring books until I ran out of them, I wouldn’t be writing books.
For two, I’ve been desperately trying to read more. My reading severely slowed down when I started really writing professionally, taking it seriously, all that. There’s a great breakdown I just read about this over on Chuck Wendig’s blog. As always when I share my favorite curse-fueled penmonkey (That’s what I call Chuck Wendig when I’m alone.), I’m going to say it’s an NC-17 blog, and this post is no exception. But it’s also one of my favorite blogs on the entire internet. I mean, admittedly, I’m a writer, so it’s in my wheelhouse, but still. It’s an excellent one worth checking out (So are his books. FYI.).
And for three, I see all my friends and acquaintances actually reading, which I really do miss. One of my best friends has been reading James A. Mitchener, my mother just reread all the Harry Potter books, and I’m always seeing my Goodreads friends blast through a book in a couple of days. Plus with so many good books out there I haven’t read… well, it just seemed like it was high time for me to get started.
But it does make me curious, in a sort of existential, philosophical way: why do we read, and why do authors not read as much? Again, I would turn you to Chuck Wendig for the bit about authors, because I think he nails it (And it’s entertaining, if not entirely universal.). But why do we read? Why, when there’s plenty of other things providing a more immediate option for entertainment, like movies and video games and your fifteenth rewatching of Frasier (I’ve seen the series front to back at least that many times. Don’t judge me.), do we choose to devote hours upon hours of our lives to reading books?
I don’t know enough about psychology to make any actual judgments on the real implications of reading, but for me, it’s relaxation. When I watch movies or play games, those aren’t relaxing for me. Those make me tense. And it’s not that books never illicit any real emotion from me, but when I feel stressed or sad or shocked in a book, it’s less of a strain on my system, for a lack of a better term. I can relax with a book. I mean, all right, sometimes I’ll get sucked into a book and read it until 4 in the morning, but that’s also something I can’t do with movies or games. They don’t grab me in the same way, except in exceedingly rare situations.
So I’m curious – why do you pick books? Why do you read instead of anything else? I’m honestly curious. Let me know and I’ll love you forever. Or something like that.