Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Need To Read: Is This a Good Thing?

Posted by Simcha 4:31 AM, under | 4 comments

I love to read and I will grab at any opportunity that presents itself to pull out a book and sneak in a chapter or two. At home, at work or on the road, I've gotten very creative at finding opportunities that will allow me to lose myself, just for a moment, in the pages of one story or another (iPhones are great for subtle reading during meetings and lectures). But lately some of my enthusiasm for reading has been dampened by the fact that I don’t have any friends to share my love for books with. For some reason very few of my friends actually read for pleasure and when I'm conversing with them I have to forcibly restrain myself from jumping in about my latest read, because they just don't care. And frankly, this depresses me.

I have begun wondering why it is that so many of my friends, most of whom are wonderfully interesting people, don't read. When I ask them they say that they just don’t have the time, and considering that most of them are young parents who busy with work and child care, this is an understandable excuse. But if you really love to read, as I do, you will always find the time, even if you have to hide out in the bathroom while the kids are banging on the door or pull out a book while washing the dishes. And since I’m unlikely to get a better answer from my friends than the one I received, I’ve begun considering the opposite question- why do I need to read?

For me reading is often an escape from the monotony of every day life, allowing me to slip into someone else’s more interesting and exciting existence for a short time. I love the adventure and magic of fantasy novels and the feel-good happy endings of a romance. I love reading travel books because they take me to places that I’ve longed to explore, and memoirs, which introduce me to interesting people who inspire me and who I would otherwise never get to meet.

But now I’m left wondering if my friends who don’t reads are perhaps just more satisfied with their own lives and their places in the world, and therefore have no need to pursue other existences within the pages of books. Maybe they feel fully enriched by the people they know and have no need for the fictional characters in books. And perhaps they don’t need to read about far away lands because they are perfectly happy where they currently are. Could not needing to read actually be an indication of a content and fulfilled personality?

I really don't know what the answer to this is, though I suspect than when I do finally set off to travel the world I will feel less of a need to turn to my books for adventure than I do now.

4 comments:

I agree- If you are a booklover, you will find the time to read. I've held down a job, gone to school, and raised a young child at the same time and still managed to sneak in a book or two (outside of school books).

And reading is just not for escape or pleasure but to satisfy curiosity. If you are a curious person, you'd want to read, I think.

I'm in the same situation! None of my friends read a lot, so I can't talk about books with them as I'd like to. Only one of my cousins reads a lot, so I mostly talk about books with him, but we don't live in same town, so it's usually not in person, which I'd prefer ;)
Anyway, if you want to read, you'll find time! Even 1 chapter a day is better than none ;) I'm usually reading when I go to bed.
As to why I read, I've loved it since I was a little girl! I think I've inherited my love for books from my mom ;)
Just like you, I love the adventure, the fantasy worlds, the mysteries, the romance, in one word the thrill & the imagination in the stories! While I read, I lose myself in the story & the characters come to life. Lol, I sound like such a cliché, but it's true.
Also, I think that maybe one of the reasons why I read is that I get bored with things really easy, so I need changes all the time, so that's why I love reading & why I love all genres! I think it's the same reason why we watch movies or tv series!
And I agree with Stephanie. If you're curious, you'd enjoy reading! I know I'm really curious.
Also, I don't think the reason why someone reads is if your satisfied with your life or not. Maybe that can be the case, but mostly not! I think that everyone that has imagination, has a need for reading books!

Stephanie: While I've always loved to read there have been times in my life when I've read less because my life outside of books just seemed so full. Like after I got married or when I moved to Israel. And times when I'm feeling low I read more than usual. Thinking about this just led me to reflect that perhaps people who don't read just feel like their life is full all the time. Though the curiosity point is a good one. I do read memoirs because I love learning about other people in other times and I suppose that's more than just for entertainment.

Aleksandra: I mostly wrote this post in a fit of frustration at not having anyone to talk to about books and trying to come up with interesting things to talk to with other people about, that has nothing to do with what I'm reading, which is really hard. It made me wonder what it is that other people talk about and why it doesn't bother them that they can't find time to read. And I admit, this caused me to wonder if perhaps I'm the odd one for wanting to read so badly that I always find the time. Though I'm so thankful for my book blogging which has put me in touch with other people that feel the same way that I do about books, otherwise I really would think there was something wrong with me :)

:) I have to say many of my friends don't read much either. I find at times I don't have much to talk about with them because I have been spending so much time with my books. They ask me what I have been up to and I want to answer... well, I just got back from Hell with Joe Dante while he tried to track down the man responsible for killing his family - or so he thought. That really wouldn't work to well. :) That was the latest book I finished or was reading at the time. But I would like to talk about my books with others as well.

But, I read to escape as well. The world is a stressful place, and it doesn't seem to matter where or what I do. But reading takes me out of that for just a little while and into a world I find fascinating - with magic and adventure.

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