Why do we read?

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Full Member
Sep 28, 2017
Hi everyone,

A little while ago, in another thread, I said this:
I'm not a puzzle-solving reader. I read mostly to be entertained. Others read differently.
To which, @KateESal replied with this:
That looks like another interesting discussion, right there. Why do we read?
And I think you're right, Kate – it does look like an interesting discussion – hence this thread. And thanks for the idea. I hope you don't mind me running with it! :)

I read mostly to be entertained, and for me that generally means characters I'll miss when I put the book down and moments of wonder. At least, that's what it means at the moment. Tastes do change – I wasn't so interested in [conscious of?] character when I was younger – but wonder, in all its guises, has been a constant for me throughout my reading life.

So, to the question...

Why do you read?
Playwright Edward Albee said "I write to find out what I'm thinking about"—which is one my motivations for writing and also for reading, in that I wouldn't read anything that didn't stimulate my curiosity. I'm not necessarily looking for answers, simply interested to read what the author thinks of a situation they've created...how do they set it up and how do they escape from it?

Also, and it sounds wearisome and more calculating than I really am, I read to study other authors' techniques. This is entering into does being a writer spoil your enjoyment as a reader territory?, which several of us have commented on in old threads.

As a reader, I have loyalty to characters I've followed through a series of novels, sometimes for thirty years. I've aged alongside them and want to find out what's going on in their lives.

Overall, I'm looking for a satisfying read, but also something that makes me think about things differently.
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I think it’s because we love stories. Before man could read or write, stories were handed down as memories then drawings and only later as words. When I am writing I tend not to read books as I don’t want to be distracted for too long. Currently I like reading news. I am reading a chapter every day about a man called Trump. He gets up to all sorts of amazing things. Today’s chapter was about him declaring war on someplace but you never know with him, he might change his mind overnight. I like it because each chapter is a short sharp story each day which takes me out of myself into a fictional world for ten minutes after which I have no choice but to put it down and wait for another twenty four hours. That’s when I write my own stories.
I'm an eclectic reader. I love wonder and seek to be entertained by it, but I love solving puzzles. I love pearls of wisdom, a fresh take on the old, lots of subversion, but also how characters react with one another, who's hiding what? and the subtext of their conversation.
Mostly I read to be transported to another world - different countries, eras and cultures, past or present. But I love to see the connections between those worlds and ours, the eternal things that make us human. I like to be entertained but also surprised and challenged.
I can't imagine not reading TBH. I picked up a book when I was a kid and I've never really stopped... I suppose I read to learn, to relax, for entertainment - what better place to do that, than in a voyage through mine imagination and others.
I read for various reasons: To be entertained. To lose myself in something. But mainly, I'm reading to help me write, to broaden my story telling skills, to see what works and what doesn't, to see how other authors tackled the same genre.

Sometimes I read simply because a blurb, or a concept just gripps me.
thanks for the idea. I hope you don't mind me running with it! :)
Not in the least, @Rich.

Ultimately, I'm an escapist. My favourite books take me on a journey that I don't want to end.

Sometimes the sheer enjoyment of an author's way with words is enough to keep me reading.

But characters I care about and a story that bowls me along are vital ingredients.

And humour. A novel doesn't have to be a comedy masterpiece, but I do enjoy moments of levity, even in the darkest stories.

A little bit of learning never goes amiss either - and the best books widen the world in some way, whether it's with facts, ideas or glimmers of inspiration.

And - as my tagline suggests - I agree wholeheartedly with @Steve C about stories. You can't beat a good story.

So, why do I read? All of the above.
It's always fascinating to peer into others' minds. Thanks to everyone for sharing. There are commonalities here in our tiny sample, and I found myself nodding in recognition as I read through the thread. I imagine most of you did too. :)
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