Why do we Read?

This is a question that has been occupying my thoughts considerably recently, and I certainly cannot claim to have an answer, or even any strong conclusions. Most of us here are probably big readers, but I know quite a few people, and well educated ones at that, who would be pushing it to read two or three books a year. Why is it that some of us read a lot, others very little. What are our motivations for reading, what reasons do we have for enjoying reading as a significant pastime.

I read a quote once, that went something like ‘We read books for two reasons. The first is because we want to, the second is in order to brag about having read it’. I am not sure where I read this, who said it, and have been unable to track it down on Google. I do however like this quote.

I had a quick search on Google and came up with a number of reasons why people read, although I think all of them can probably be reduced to some extent to the two reasons quoted above.

These reasons included knowledge and entertainment, to get away from their lives, and escape the stresses of life, reading for school, to explore things out of our reach, to stimulate the brain, learn other people’s opinions, to learn, to improve their language comprehension and spelling, gain a larger vocabulary and to study and further an interest. These are just a few of the reasons I found.

Personally I like to read for a number of reasons that I am aware of, and probably an equal, or greater number that I am probably not aware of. I enjoy learning and stretching myself intellectually but mostly I think I like the escapism. Being able to immerse myself in different worlds, plots and characters lets me escape the realities of life for a little while and usually I feel calmer afterwards. However, sometimes I do read books just to be able to say I have read it (for example Ulysses) or because others are reading it (Fifty Shades of Grey). Usually I find that I enjoy them after I have gotten into them.

So tell me, why do you read books?