Why I read

So, what has prompted me to write about my reading motivations?  Well, I’ll tell you!

In addition to being lousy at blogging so far this year, I haven’t been so great at keeping up with Facebook and Twitter, either.  This means I spend a lot of time playing catch-up.  During one of my crazy bursts of catch-up reading, I found the following tweets in my stream:

And I got to thinking: Why doI read?  I don’t think I really read to stretch my comfort zone, although I’ve definitely read some things that put me squarely outside of it.  So far outside of it that I couldn’t have seen it with a high-powered telescope, even.  But that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t appreciate the material that pushed the boundaries of what I am comfortable seeing – or imagining – depicted.  (Not a Man by M.A. McRae and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini are the books to which I’m referring, if you’re curious, and I highly recommend them both.)

So.  Why I read.  I read:

To escape.
Escape what?  Why, the world!  In a book, I can escape my dreary little corn-fed existence and have the kinds of adventures I’ve only dreamed of.  In a book, I can venture to new worlds in the blink of an eye and learn about all kinds of fascinating alien cultures.  In a book, I can be the hero of my own story.

For comfort.
What could be better than curling up with your favorite story on a cold winter day?  Throw on a nice, heavy blanket, sip at a mug of cocoa or tea, and sail away on a ship commanded by the most fearsome space pirate this side of the galaxy.  Or settle in for a good love story; I hear Florin is lovely this time of year.

rowlingbookTo live.
This sort of goes along with escapism, but in a book, I can do anything, be anything.  If I want to be a beautiful space princess, I can be a beautiful space princess.  I can do all the things I never had the chance to do in real life because, like people do, I’ve made choices I regret.  But even if that weren’t the case, there are so many possibilities in life.  There’s just no way to experience everything for yourself.  But you can always read books.  And, as George R.R. Martin said, a reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, but the man who never reads lives only one.

To gain knowledge.
I come from a family of shutterbugs.  When I bought my first SLR camera, I was beyond excited.  I also didn’t have a clue what I was doing with it.  So what did I do?  I went straight down to my local library and checked out Photography for Dummies.  For Christmas that year, my brother-in-law and his wife gave me another photography book.  I devoured both of them.

When I wanted to learn more about Shakespeare and have a better understanding of his incredible body of work?  I hit the library.  When I wanted to learn French?  I found some old books in my high school Spanish room from back when our school offered more than one foreign language option.  When I want to learn more about something related to writing?  I read.  I learn by reading and then doing, keeping the directions within arm’s reach for easy reference.

Now that I think about it, maybe I do read to escape my comfort zone, after all.  I mean, you can’t learn and grow if you don’t challenge yourself to move beyond the bounds of the comfortable, right?  And I’ve often found, while reading, that I’ve learned something without realizing it.  I treasure the times I stumble over a passage which unexpectedly illuminates some facet of the human experience.  Those are amazing moments, and they make reading worth every second.

These are only some of the reasons I read.  If I hadn’t been fighting off a migraine all week, I’m sure I could come up with many, many more reasons why I read.  Or maybe I would just be able to come up with better ways to illustrate the reasons I did list.  Either way, there are probably as many reasons to read as there are stars in the sky or people on the planet.

So.  What are your reasons?  Why do you read?

(c) 2013.  All rights reserved.

18 thoughts on “Why I read

  1. S.Z. Williams says:

    My main reason for reading used to be escape, but these days I read to unwind and learn more about writing. Once bitten by the bookworm, never cured!


    • Kay Kauffman says:

      Ah, yes, unwinding! How does that go again? 😀

      Seriously, though, reading is one of my favorite ways to unwind. But as long as I’m unwinding with a good book, I may as well escape into it for a little while. 😉

      But I’m confused. Why would anyone want to cure a bookworm’s bite? Such a thing is surely nonsense. 😛


      • S.Z. Williams says:

        I do still escape in books as well. I guess it’s impossible not to fall down the rabbit hole of a good book. 🙂 I’d certainly never want the bookworm cure. What I would like are superhuman powers that would give me the ability to read every single book I’ll ever want to read in the span of a single lifetime!


  2. averythorne says:

    To be entertained. Escapism, to me, seems a bit depressing. After all, if you want to escape into a book, is it not because you’re unsatisfied with your own life? But books are wonderful ways to read stories and laugh and enjoy tales woven by others. They’re for entertainment.


    • Kay Kauffman says:

      Yes! Entertainment! See, I knew I’d have thought of more reasons if I could think straight. 🙂

      But I disagree with your point about escapism. Sure, there have been times in my life when I’ve wanted to escape into books because I’ve been dissatisfied with my life. Mostly those times were very dark times in my life, like after my mom died or my teen years or when I was going through my divorce. But sometimes I just need to escape my everyday grind. I need a break from four kids who all want to be waited on hand and foot. I need a break from toddlers who live to scream and squawk and cry for the duration of my commute (and no, I haven’t figured out why yet). Sometimes I just want to be swept away by a great story, to be reminded of days of yore, when I was younger and happier and somewhat more carefree (and definitely more kid-free).

      As much as I love my life (and my kids), sometimes I just need a break from it all to recharge, to rest and unwind, to find myself, even. As the saying goes, if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. 😉


  3. Cheryl Fassett says:

    Entertainment definitely, but I also read to help suspend reality for a little while when life gets too stressful and hectic. And I am right there with you on reading to learn. Any time I want to know more about a subject, I hit amazon! 🙂


    • Kay Kauffman says:

      Yes! Definitely! I am so with you on suspending the stress and the hectic. Between my schedule, my husband’s schedule, and my kids’ schedules, it’s a miracle I haven’t met myself coming and going yet. 😀


    • Kay Kauffman says:

      Oh, yes! I love to travel. Unfortunately, I’m not independently wealthy, so I can’t afford to just take off on a whim and go wherever my heart desires. Books are a wonderful way to combat that, aren’t they? 🙂


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