Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Why I Read

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads only lives one.”

I read a lot. It should be obvious to anyone who has looked through my previous blogs, or who knows me in real life. But many people now see reading as uncool. I’m not trying to act superior because I read, but it leads me asking myself “Why?” Most people I know read somewhat regularly, but then there’s the odd person who says “I never read.”

I always loved reading. It was one of the only things I remember being told I was good at, as a child. My first words were even “read book!” At least, that’s what my parents tell me, but I’m not sure if that’s just family legend at this point. I read upstairs, long after I should have been asleep, with my light on. Since I wasn’t allowed a TV in my bedroom, it became my go-to method of keeping myself awake.

I can go on an adventure, can experience successes and failures with these characters, and stay safe and warm at home. Their happiness is my happiness, their sadness is my sadness. I can defeat evil with them, celebrate when they win. Not many of us do get the chance to go on an adventure to save the world, so reading is the next best thing.

Reading takes me away from who I am. I didn’t always have a large circle of friends, and I grew up on the outside. Reading allows me to carry people who I care about around with me. It made me feel like I had somewhere to turn during my worst moments. People whose lives I am interested in. For a while, I am someone else, included and interacting with their circle of friends. You can see the world through someone else’s shoes and experience things you don’t usually.

Reading takes me away from where I am. I love travelling, but I can’t always do it, if my finances are tight. Through books, I can experience stories taking place all over the globe. I can travel back and forward in time. I can touch the farthest reaches of space or explore a completely different world to our own.

Reading takes me away from how I am. It’s relaxing. If I’m having problems, then for a few hours I get to be someone else, and experience their problems. I’ve often found advice, comfort or even solutions from what happens in books.

And why do I read to get these experiences? Surely, I can get these from films, TV, video games? I’m not denying that, and many of the reasons I enjoy watching TV or movies are for these exact reasons. I like a good story, no matter the medium in which it’s delivered. But in reading, I end up completely sucked into a world, almost in such a way that I forget I’m in the real one. I lose myself completely in the world of the book.

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