Why Do You Read?



I’m a schizophrenic.

And so am I.

No, really, I am.

When it comes to reading, different people inside me emerge. The stronger personalities throw an elbow at the weaker until there is a resurgence and the weaker fights back.

I am a reader.

I can’t “not read.” If there is nothing handy to read—a pathetic situation I strive constantly to avoid—I will sound out the ingredients of cereal: barley malt extract, trisodium phosphate, riboflavin, calcium carbonate…

The intersection of schizophrenia and reading is illustrated in the answer to the question “Why do you read?”

I read because I like to read.

I read to learn facts. What does the third verse of In the Garden mean?

I read to be entertained. Tell me a story!

I read as a way to love others. Nothing like a kid on a lap with a book

I read to show love to others. You like Dick Francis? Then I will read him, too.

I read to fulfill obligations. Carol, please read this and let me know what you think.

I read some titles because one is supposed to read them.

I read some titles to say I have read them. Shameless of me to admit it, but true.

I read so I won’t be left behind. The buzz about Unbroken is one instance.

I read to nourish my soul.

I read because I’m bored.

I read because I’m tired.

I read some books to get them off my shelf. I could just remove them, but I want to read them!

I read because someone I admire recommended the book.

I read because someone I’ve never heard of recommended the book.

I read to escape unlovely tasks. A habit begun long ago when I had homework.

I read difficult books because they often reward the effort.  Vigorous reading gives me endorphins.

I read to quench my curiosity.

I read to kindle curiosity.


So, gentle reader, why do you read?



11 thoughts on “Why Do You Read?

  1. I read for all the reasons you mentioned and also because I love “hearing” words put together beautifully. It’s like music!  “A word fitly spoken” can evoke all kinds of thoughts, imaginings, and pleasures.  Just the fact that you called me “gentle reader” in your post touched my heart with memories of pleasurable hours in Jane Eyre.  I love the power of words.

  2. I read to breathe. For me they are the same thing. I have been following you for years and am so very grateful for all that you share whether it be of books, music, art, or life wisdom…. And I always love the quotes you post! So thank you from an internet friend.

  3. I read to fall asleep at night.I read to ignore worrisome thoughts.I read to learn new words.I read to avoid housework.I read because I don’t know how else to behave!Great question,DI

  4. I like this list.   I read for many of the reasons above, but lately I’ve been reading to escape.  It’s been rather stressful here and I just need something that isn’t very thoughtful or serious.

  5. I read because I can’t help it. Never could. From early childhood. I learned to read before i started school and then got into trouble because I would read ahead of the class to see what was happening. My first grade teacher didn’t like that! And btw, my oldest daughter taught herself to read by figuring out the words on the back of cereal boxes before she started school.

  6. Ditto all the above. I also read to learn, and I love the things I learn inadvertently from reading, you know, things you weren’t expecting to learn from a certain book. And I read because I love to expand my vocabulary without actually having to be given a list of words to learn. Many times it’s a real comfort to read, to hear someone put into words things I’ve been trying to formulate in my mind and haven’t been able to. And reading takes me away to places I will never get to visit or even see pictures of (and you’re welcome to make fun of this English major for leaving not ONE but TWO sentences with a proposition at the end of [them]!!!).

  7. I, too, read to satiate my curiosity about things.  I read to understand what people around me and far away from me are thinking.  I read classics in order to understand how we got to this point.I read Island of the World recently in large part due to you and Janie’s passion for it.  It was well worth it….  I read books because they help illuminate attributes of God- either by what they say or don’t say.  All words eventually point back to the Word and I see that when I’m paying attention.Someone said this is like breathing.  It is to me as well.  Music has perhaps a deeper hold on my wiring, but reading is a close second.  I try not to waste much time in sloppy books if I can help it.Thanks so much- always enjoy your writings.

  8. I read because I can’t NOT read.  I can remember the day I learned to read and I don’t think a day has passed since then that I haven’t had a book in progress.  I can’t understand people who can read and don’t.  

  9. @nnjmom – You’re welcome! I’m ready to imbibe in more Berry!@hopeinbrazil – I love the sound of words, too. I can go overboard with alliteration, but I like interior rhymes.@Barb – “I read to breathe.” Precisely. Thank you for your kind words. A comment like yours is a pleasant surprise.@ACircleofQuiet – “I don’t know how else to behave.” I like that! I read to fall asleep, too. I always chuckle when I remember a phrase George W. Bush said, quoted in a biography of Laura Bush: “Laura, turn the (*&(=@ light off!”@DebD – Escape works for me. But then I usually come to a point where, instead of turning my back to a problematic area, I want to probe…and then I find books to read about it. It’s not analogous to what you are going through, but I have books on laundry, on cleaning house, etc. My husband says, “Why do you need a book on how to clean? Just clean, already!”@mamapiano – I love that about you! I can’t help it either!@LimboLady – Expanding vocabulary is a great reason to read. And the joy, the unadulterated joy, when a writer expresses what you have always thought, but never even thought to articulate is goosebumpy!@jalanmiller – I’m glad you read Island of the World. I’m almost ready to re-read it. But I gave my copy away. “Try not to waste time in sloppy books.” Well put!@SemicolonSherry – “I need stories.” Yep…me too! I go crazy when I’m around theological wonks who say they don’t have time to read fiction. I sort of get combative, I do.@carol97 – You get it! Thanks for your comment. (I always feel a bit guilty with my Carol in Oregon moniker. There are several Carols in Oregon!

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