Why Do I Read, they ask me.

So I’m sitting here and I’m about to get up and leave and I don’t feel like working and I don’t feel like listening to music and I don’t want to go out and I have already worked/studied for today and I’ve already eaten and I don’t have a phone at the moment and there is nothing for me to do at all and I am thinking, What Shall I Do? and the answer in my brain is, I Know What I Shall Do, and what I shall do is Read.

And then I pick a book. And sometimes it’s entertaining. And sometimes it’s thought-provoking. And sometimes it makes me cry. And sometimes it makes me tired. And sometimes I learn stuff from the stuff I read.

I don’t think I read to escape. I don’t feel like I escape when I am reading – and generally whenever I want to escape a situation, I have difficulty reading. I can’t enter the text. Reading isn’t about escapism. I can care, and cry, and invest without being taken away from my life and the world I live in.

Is it about entertainment? Playing Monopoly is entertaining. Being on wotmania can be entertaining. Going out to see London is entertaining. Reading can be entertaining but you never know until you try. Even a reread is not going to guarantee me the kind of experience, the flavour of feeling, I am about to go through.

Do I love language? Well, yes. But I cannot tell you if I love language because I read or if I read because I love language. I don’t know which comes first.

(The reading comes first, and the language comes within.)

Anyway. Why do I read? Because there’s a hole in my head, and this is what I use to fill it. Because my soul is ever expandible and books help me push out the boundaries, as do so many other things. Because they are a delight, and a sadness, and an intelligence, and a torment and an anger and a love.

I read because I do.

2 responses to “Why Do I Read, they ask me.

  1. Indeed. I have no idea why I read either. Although it is easier to pin down in rereads, because then it is like an addiction of sorts, a craving which needs to be stimulated, a passage which demands I pay it attention.

    New books, though, new books demand things. But very often in a good way. The feeling when you start a book for the first time, and have no idea where it is headed… I think that must be the times when one reads most thoroughly. One cannot afford to skip anything, because vital clues may lie everywhere.

    I think that is why I love Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveller… so much. It forces you into that slow, agonizing reading way and does not allow you to fall into a rythm.

  2. If on a Winter’s Night is the ultimate in I-Dunno-What-I-Want-To-Read reads, methinks. Once I put that down I have read, and I usually can move on to reread something else or try something new.

    Allende’s Eva Luna does that for me too – precisely because it does allow one to fall into a rhythm, gently and inevitably.

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