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?

29 thoughts on “Why do we Read?

  1. I read because each book is a little peek into the author’s mind. Consciously and unconsciously, an author shares as much in books as they would share with their most intimate friends, and maybe more. I love to find out what makes people tick!


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  3. I think people read to escape the norm for a moment, or take a break from reality. Some read to learn, to seek answers, to get inspired, and to experience new things. Some simply read for entertainment.

    I read for all these reasons.


    • I agree. It is rarely as simple as a single reason for reading. I think that in most of us it is a combination of many reasons. I know that it is with me and it is obviously the same with you. Thanks for commenting.


  4. I think people who read less than three books per year probably watch more TV or movies, or just read magazine articles. Everyone needs entertainment. Reading also allows us to interact directly with other minds, as has already been said. Harold Bloom’s How to Read and Why and Michael Dirda’s Book by Book are two really good books on the subject.


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