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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Why read?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (30392points) September 27th, 2012

Reading is a system of turning written symbols into understandable language. It is communication at times joyous and at others laborious.

Readers bring a treasure trove of experience to the task of translating letters into language to gather information. They have knowledge, attitudes, and culture that color their awareness of what they read.

Reading is an art requiring continued practice. Elementary skills that served me well when reading about Curious George will fail me when I start Gravity’s Rainbow. I need improvement.

Writing is about 5000 years old or so. It’s thought the Sumerians were first, writing accounts of grain storage. The Egyptians followed with much more elaborate stories and ceremonies surrounding their hieroglyphics. People have longed to tell stories for eons.

What do you read?

How do you read?

Why do you read?

I read news on the computer daily. I have many books on my Kindle that I downloaded for free from There are some books that I have to read in paper form. Anything by Anne Carson falls into this latter category. My library of books numbers only about 250 with another 150 on my Kindle.

Finally, why? I’m driven to read. I’m a voracious reader of high quality prose and poetry. I need to know what others have experienced. I need to escape my limited existence. I need to lose my consciousness in the words on a page.

I need to read.

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23 Answers

augustlan's avatar

I read anything and everything, pretty much. From news, magazines of all kinds, blogs of all kinds, novels, memoirs and short stories to the backs of cereal boxes and shampoo bottles. Whatever is handy, I’m reading it.

Aside from the news and blogs (internet), most everything I read is in paper form. I’d like to get a Kindle at some point, but it’s not in the cards right now. When I can afford to, I buy books, but the library is my friend, too. I’ve even gotten two boxes of books from a jelly! Now that my kids are teenagers, we lend books to each other, which is cool. For certain books or authors, I will automatically buy the hardcover edition as soon as it comes out (Stephen King, for instance), but the rest of the books I buy are paperbacks.I own 500+ books, at the very least. Maybe as many as a thousand.

Why I read is a lot harder to explain, yet simple, too. To not read would be damn near impossible for me. I’m compulsive about it.

zenvelo's avatar

Reading is not only an escape from the mundane, it is also a way to experience how others think, what their emotions are like in circumstances from a gamut of situations, from being a lover in an awkward setting to dealing with a murderer on the streets.

How else would I know about a hipster cross country trip, or being a midshipman in a British frigate fighting Napoleon?

By the way, I have a Kindle and a Nook; both were given as business “favors” at conferences. But I prefer the real thing.

I feel like I am missing something when I don’t have a book with me.

syz's avatar

As my life has been more and more taken over by my work, I find that my reading has suffered. Not that I read less, necessarily, but that I read poorly – for entertainment only. (I think the fact that I have a Kindle has also contributed to what I read, too. I buy junk on the Kindle that I would never spend money for in a store.)

Paradox25's avatar

Reading is a hobby of mine, but I still prefer the old fashioned book over a kindle or the net.

Blackberry's avatar

I only do it if I want to learn something. I’m not really into fiction anymore.

JLeslie's avatar

I mostly read to learn something or to have a discussion. I never liked fiction much, I almost never read books. I read magazines, medical journals, and on the web. Specific articles on topics I want to know more about. And, then of course here on fluther, and a little fun on facebook.

prasad's avatar

One, I read because I have to teach it to the class. Second, I like to keep myself updated. Feeling of I know pretty much stuff that my profession requires makes me satisfied.

Recently, I have been reading books by Orisson Swett Marden. I like those. I find his books motivating.

Then, in the spare time, I read from various sources and on different topics – newspapers, magazines, etc. Also, I enjoy reading suspense stories and like Sherlock Holmes and war stories, survivor stories, etc.

Finally, I read religious books. It builds in me strength enough not to collapse under adverse circumstances.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Depends on my mood. I read to learn, to escape, to laugh, to cry, to inform me, to reassure myself. Reading can do anything your mind lets it do. I’m a voracious reader.

marinelife's avatar

I read to expand my world.

I read to get lost in my imagination.

I read to be entertained.

I read to learn new things.

I read because I enjoy it.

wundayatta's avatar

I read data, news, analysis, opinion, and questions.

I read short articles online, about 90%. Printed periodicals about 9%. Books about a half percent, and miscellaneous stuff about half a percent.

I read to gather information about things that interest me and to learn. I read to stimulate my mind and get ideas. I read to find out what other people are thinking about and are interested in. I read to find out how I can help others. I read so I can find out what I need to do. I read so I can interact with people I care about and whose company I enjoy. Occasionally, I even read for entertainment. I used to do that about 80% of the time. But since the internet intervened, that has completely changed around.

The difference between the internet and a novel is that I get responses on the internet. I feel like I am relating to virtual people, who are more like real people than characters in a novel. Also, I can’t interact with characters in a novel. The internet is like a live, interactive novel where we get to make up the story as we go alone. It’s more creative and more exciting to me. Novels just don’t cut it, any more, I guess. Although I do miss being exposed to some new ideas that novelists come up with, especially in science fiction.

gailcalled's avatar

To me, that is the same as asking, “Why breathe?”

It is impossible not to.

Roby's avatar

To learn..for entertainment. Two main reasons I do it.

Coloma's avatar

Mostly for learning and to satiate my curiosity.
I read anything that interests me. Primarily, nature, science, animals, psychology, spirituality, philosophy, off the wall hobbies, art, gardening, etc.
I prefer non-fiction and am not really a novel type, although I have enjoyed some works of fiction.

I like factual information and learning through reading over being entertained.
I can watch movies based on novels. lol

KNOWITALL's avatar

It is my form of escape (I don’t drink or do drugs) and my way of relaxing. I need to read, too.

GracieT's avatar

Like @gailcalled, it’s like asking “why breathe?” Besides, how else would my friends and I have passed the time during recess as kids?

rojo's avatar

I love the feel of a book in my hands, on my lap. I have drifted away from novels of late but still enjoy picking one up and losing myself in its pages from time to time.
Sometimes I buy books on sale, a bunch at a time, with the intent on reading them but most will end up in my library after a cursory glance. Months or even years later I will refind them and get excited all over again. Everyday is like christmas when I look through my library shelves.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I never buy books, I swap with friends and give a lot away. I love the library but some people are so rude- I find words circled, food dribbled on pages, missing pages, etc… Has anyone else noticed the tons of misspellings as well, it’s so annoying…don’t they have proof readers? Pay me, I’ll do it for the love of reading the books for free!

Blondesjon's avatar

Working out exercises your body.

Talking exercises your mouth.

Studying exercises your body.

Reading exercise your soul.

Linda_Owl's avatar

I read to be entertained & to learn new ideas, new ways of looking at things, new ways of thinking about things. I have a large number of books. I enjoy reading non-electronic books that I can curl-up with. To be without something to read is a terrible thought indeed.

ShanEnri's avatar

I read books on my Nook and in paper form. I’ll read just about anything. I read to escape the mundane life of work, work, work and never any money to go or do!

AngryWhiteMale's avatar

What do you read: I read fiction, non-fiction, newspapers, blogs, magazines, e-mails, and the rare postcard or handwritten letter. I also read how-to manuals, bills, instructions, road signs, and nutritional information on food packages. Sometimes I like to think I read minds, but usually I’m just reading body language.

How do you read: I read with my eyes, usually, although if I really want to challenge myself, I close one eye. It puts a lot of strain on it, though.

Why do you read: Because I can.

This reminds me of the old joke: Q: What building has the most stories? A: The library.

flutherother's avatar

I read because reading fascinates me. We are only given one pair of eyes and ears and one mind but through books we can see with a thousand eyes and experience the thoughts of a thousand minds. How much poorer life would be without books.

GracieT's avatar

I love to read- ebooks are good, but nothing takes the place of a real, honest-to-God printed book. Also, I used to work at Barnes and Noble. I had to leave for the simple fact that I could not afford it. This was despite my 30% discount.

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