Monday, July 8, 2013

Why Do We Read?

I recently read a book that asks the question Why do we read?

The author--through the voice of one of the characters--suggests that in literature, everything has a meaning. But it is the experiences in our own lives that shape what the meaning is and how it affects us.

Reading causes us to ask deep questions. Like what is the meaning of my life? Why am I where I am in life? Where will this path lead me? What is good and what is evil? What is love? What is my role in my life's story?

He suggests that as we read, we relate to the characters in such a way that we find the part of our lives or personality that parallels them, and we become them.

He says, "If we take these stories too literally, if we expect our personal lives to always end with a handsome prince, most of us will close our books with shattered dreams. Yet, on the other hand...if we don't take the meaning of those stories literally, if we treat these tales as simply entertainment, we miss the deepest, most life-shanging aspects of the stories. We miss the entire reason they exist." (The Rent Collector by Camron Wright)

I've always believed that reading is more than just entertainment. That by picking up a good book, I'm learning something about life, and more importantly, learning something about myself.

So that's the question. Why do we read?


  1. I read to learn. It's something my roommate at college years ago told me. She admitted she read historical romance novels for escapism (political science major). At the time I was reading Sartre, de Beauvoir, Kafka and Kerouac (I was an art major).

    Knowledge is one of those golden rings I want to acquire and use to form my opinions. To read broadly exposes our minds to many interesting ideas. We pick and choose as you say what appeals and thereby select those things important to us.

    Great question for discussion.

  2. I read to experience.
    I read to escape.
    I read to be taught.
    I read to understand.
    I read to change my perspective.

  3. Ditto Taffy. I read to be transported and transformed. I want to feel something different after each read.

  4. That's precisely why I love fiction so much. I like to read about real(ish) people with real problems who come up with real solutions that could apply to me. It's the best form of education out there :)

  5. Reading is the most primary method f acquiring knowledge. In the learning stage of life, reading offers many benefits as it influences the perspective of the readers about the outer world and helps to create their own opinion about each incidence occurring in the society. Also, the teachers should encourage the students to read as much as possible in addition to the basic academic text books. Thanks for sharing the great thoughts with us!
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