Why Do We Read?

“There are two motives for reading a book; one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it.” — Bertrand Russell
Is this so?  Is that why we read?  If yes, then why is that?  If no, then why are there so many book clubs?

I read to escape.  I read to experience things I wouldn’t otherwise be able to experience.  I read because I love it.  I read because my life feels more full and meaningful and worth living when I’m reading.  I read because I think it makes me a better reader.  I read because I think it makes me a better writer.  I read because I learn new things.  I read because I feel new things.
I read to remember.  I read to forget.  I read to help myself concentrate.  I read to distract myself.  Reading never feels like passing the time.  Time and everything else I have to do feels like the distraction.  My favorite time to read is when I really should be doing something else.
Have you ever seen someone reading a book and you can just feel/tell how proud they are to be, not even necessarily reading the book, but being seen reading that book?  Held out boldly, at an angle that no one could miss, begging the world to see how bright and forward-thinking and well-read they are?  I’m not hating, just asking.  There is no bad reason for reading.
I saw a middle-aged man zealously reading Catching Fire poolside the other day.  I think this is the opposite of that.
I am currently about three-fourths of the way through Infinite Jest.  I’m proud of myself, sure, because the footnotes alone are enough to swear some people off reading for life.  But I’m sure this book, maybe more than any other, has been read for the sole purpose of being able to say it has been read by it’s reader, so as to seem learned and wise.  I guess reading even for the wrong reasons is better than nothing.  Or television.
Why do you like to read?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *