Why do we read?
I’ve been thinking about this question a lot. Actually, I’ve been thinking about this question since April, when the Pew Center released their study on the reading habits of Americans.
Unsurprisingly, the data revealed that people read… wait for it…
A lot of different reasons.
Take a moment to recover from the shock of that astonishing information.
Here’s a snippet from the results (it’s really worth reading through the study, if this sort of thing interests you):
- 26% of those who had read a book in the past 12 months said that what they enjoyed most was learning, gaining knowledge, and discovering information.
- 15% cited the pleasures of escaping reality, becoming immersed in another world, and the enjoyment they got from using their imaginations.
- 12% said they liked the entertainment value of reading, the drama of good stories, the suspense of watching a good plot unfold.
- 12% said they enjoyed relaxing while reading and having quiet time.
- 6% liked the variety of topics they could access via reading and how they could find books that particularly interested them.
- 4% said they enjoy finding spiritual enrichment through reading and expanding their worldview.
- 3% said they like being mentally challenged by books.
- 2% cited the physical properties of books – their feel and smell – as a primary pleasure. Source Link
For me, all but the last item (books’ physicality) are true. Often when I read, I find that my world expands, that I learn something new, maybe about a place, perhaps about my own thinking. I love the drama of a good book, of a beautifully constructed plot, of carefully crafted words. Reading, as I’ve mentioned a time or twelve, is also my favorite way to unwind and decompress—it’s a lifelong habit of mine to read for an hour or two before bed or when I take a lunch break.
I’d also add to that list that I love the community of readers, which was even true before the internet became such an awesome book talk water cooler. Even as a kid, passing around good books and chatting about them, was a joy. Now, I love discussing about books here on CEFS, at my book club meetings (hi ladies!), on Twitter, on Goodreads and at Costco (this keeps happening to me for some reason).