This is an essay by Anjali Amit.
We read to know that we are not alone. –C.S. Lewis
Why read? There are so many other ways to get information and entertainment. Truth to tell, there are so many avenues clamoring for our attention that we will be well put to ask: “Why read?”
Let us begin by acknowledging that we do read, a lot. Most of the information posted on the web is in the form of words and sentences to be read. Videos and slideshows are a recent phenomenon, and comprise a very small percentage of the internet content. Driving directions, repair manuals, recipe books — all make us pore over the written word.
Why then, after all this reading, do we need to read more? Because of the very fundamental difference in the nature of the two. One form of reading is finding information we need to conduct the activities of daily life — information gathering. The other form of reading is wool gathering — hoping, dreaming, imagining. It is this other reading, for pleasure, that we are analyzing here.
Reading is Relaxation
Picture yourself with a little spare time. You see a book lying around. Before you know it you are deep in an adventure in the Amazon jungles, or winging your way through the outer planets. This is an activity that takes you out of your daily routine.You continue reading because you want to, not because you have to.
Reading is fun
We read according to our interests. The scientifically-inclined will pick up a book by Arthur C. Clarke, maybe, or Ray Bradbury or any of the many writers of this genre. If you are a legal-eagle you would go to John Grisham’s books. If you like mysteries that also teach esoteric facts then Michael Crichton is your man. There is a book for every taste.
Reading is Socializing
Did you think reading is an isolating activity? Think of all the times you have shared your experience of an interesting read with friends and sometimes strangers too. The times when there is an awkward silence in the conversation, and book discussion helps restore the flow. Reading helps you to connect with your fellow men. Book clubs are the ultimate socializing experience.
Reading is Creativity
Like Max of the book Where the Wild Things Are, you create a life in the mind. Max is sent to his bedroom without any supper. The bedroom famously changes into a forest. The walls fall away and the wild things roam free. A book sets your imagination free to roam where it will and create what it wants.
Reading is Freedom
While it sets your imagination free a book also allows you to be your true self. A book does not care for social niceties. Geek or goofball, a book opens its pages to all.
So, why not read?
Anjali Amit does not subscribe to the ‘eat to live or live to eat’ debate. She reads to live. Occasionally she writes stories for children, and has been known to create a crossword or two.