Do you have people around you who do not read? I do. In fact, most of my real-life friends don’t read. They prefer TV shows or movies:
It makes me wonder why they don’t like reading, and why I do. Ever since I was a kid, I loved stories. I probably looked like this:
Reading is one of the things that I turn to at the end of the day, when I feel tired and burnt out. I love reading more than I love TV shows, movies, and social media. I prefer spending time with a fictional character than a real-life person that I dislike any day.
So today I want to talk about why I read. Maybe you read for the same reasons, maybe not. (In either case, I’d love to hear from you.)
1. We get to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.
Being a female Asian-Canadian, I know my own story inside and out. From my friends and acquaintances, I hear snippets here and there about what it is like to be male, or African, or white, or gay, or bisexual, or to live in the States, or Jamaica, or Japan. But it’s not the same to be told a story and to experience it.
Through reading, we can be immersed in another person’s story. We get to hear a character’s thoughts and understand their actions. We really do learn to walk a mile in their shoes. Maybe they are older than we are, maybe they are younger, maybe they have parents who are divorced, maybe they are an orphan, maybe they have been abused, maybe they are spoiled and rich, maybe they go to a school for witchcraft and wizardry, maybe they are a vampire with a pet dragon. Whoever they are, we get to see the world from their eyes.
2. We get to step outside our own shoes, if only for a moment.
Even though I’ve been reading mostly YA books, I’m in my twenties and therefore… kind of an adult. And adulting sucks. School and work can be hectic. There are good times, but sometimes life is tough. Some days just leave a bitter taste in my mouth.
A good book pulls us out of our own head and into someone else’s. It offers an escape for fifteen minutes, or an hour, or a weekend (if you are a binge reader like me). And for that moment, we can forget about our upcoming exam, or the room that needs to be cleaned, or the bills that need to be paid, or the upcoming work day tomorrow. (Don’t get me wrong, we eventually gotta confront those things, but isn’t it nice to not think about them for a bit?)
3. I read because reading is exciting.
When I was a kid, I loved Sailor Moon and Pokemon and Harry Potter. I grew up knowing with a certainty that I would be recruited as a Sailor Scout and get to pick a Pokemon and then receive a letter of invitation to Hogwarts. (I’m still waiting for that invitation.) I loved the idea of being sucked into a fantasy world that is much more exciting than our own.
And the thing is: We never have to grow out of that. No matter if we are in our teens, or twenties, or thirties, or fifties, or eighties, we can always have that experience of being transported to a school of witchcraft and wizardry, or a post-apocalyptic dystopia, or a heart-stopping romance. We can always have that feeling of forgetting that we are reading, of itching to find out what happens next.
Now I want to hear from you guys: Why do you read?