This may seem like a pretty trivial question but you’d be surprised at how often I get asked why I read, normally from my non-reader friends. Although some people ask “why do you even read” in a unkind way to insinuate that I am not cool and that reading is a dying pass-time, most people are genuinely curious about my reading habits and why I choose to read. A lot of readers will probably be able to answer why did you started reading – for me my mum was a big reader and whenever someone asked her what they should get me for a birthday or Christmas gift she always said a book over any kind of toy, so it is just something I was brought up to do. However, why did you start reading and why do you read now are two completely different questions. And I’m sure a lot of readers wouldn’t be able to answer the latter without having to take some time to really think. Recently, I have been doing some thinking and I have narrowed my Whys into three main categories.
The first is because it is relaxing and reduces stress. Quite simply, I use reading as one of the ways to calm myself after a particularly busy or stressful day. Especially during my time at university, reading is something I value a lot as it helps me find that work-life balance that everyone is searching for and stops me from overworking myself. Reading has helped this semester particularly, since it has been completely online. After spending a whole day staring at my laptop screen, I don’t want to stare at it some more while I relax. So I just pick up my book and the stress just slips away when I spend my evenings getting lost in a good story.
Secondanly, I recognise that one of the most important things in life is to grow and learn as a person, and reading allows me to do this. First of all, you are constantly presented with amazing works of art that expose you to new vocabulary and styles of writing. After so much time reading, they will inevitably rub off on you and your own writing. Although I don’t have dreams of being the next best-selling author, I do hope to be articulate, well-spoke, well-educated and professional. Also, the world we live in often focuses on the insignificant things: the latest trends, celebrity gossip or money. Whereas books expand your worldwide view and removes you from you comfortable bubble. You learn the importance of other cultures and get an insight into things you never have and never will experience. This is why it is so important to diversify your reading, it simply makes you a better person. So read books on the history of racism in your country, read books about transgender rights, read books with disabled protagonists, read books that have an honest discussion of mental health, read books on period poverty, homelessness, global warming, modern wars or any other social causes. Part of growing and learning is about recognising your privilege to have access to all of this. Although, there are free resources like libraries, we are lucky to have this kind of knowledge at our fingertips. And once we grasp that knowledge, there is nothing that can take it away from us, not matter how chaotic and miserable life gets.
Finally, it all comes down to the fact that I read because I enjoy it. Books are my main source of entertainment. I would rather spend the night reading a book than watching TV or going clubbing. Although all readers would admit that they spend way to much money on books, there are so many free resources, whether online or physical, that allow us to feed our reading addiction. We don’t need a Netflix subscription, we don’t need a fancy expensive games console, we just need a good story. And there is so many out there to choose from that will capture your curiosity and imagination! There are hundreds, if not thousands of genres and subgenres of literature that I am positive that there is something out there for everyone. And honestly, that is what makes reading so amazing. Everyone’s tastes are different and everyone looks for different things in their books, meaning there will be no two readers who are the same. How beautiful.
Do you know why you read? Whether you are about to pick up your first ever book or you have been reading your whole life, stop and ask yourself why. You could easily stop and give up reading forever, but why do you return to books time and time again, even when you read ones you don’t like or ones that break your heart. Then, next time you are in a reading slump or someone asks you why you read, you can think of your personal and unique reason for why you continue to read, instead of why you started to read because quite often those answers will be very different.