The Versatility of Reading

Jul 24, 2013

Our summer is measured by the number of reunions we can squeeze in. Last weekend was the first one. We still have three more to go, plus a two-week trip to Colorado. So, if my blog posts are a little more spread out than usual, now you know why. (Try as I might, I just can't seem to write posts ahead of schedule. It would be so convenient to have a few that are ready and waiting to be published, but I guess I'm just not a fast writer.)

Anyway, the reunion was great and made better by the fact that Mike's cousin, Rachel, and her darling baby girl spent an additional two days with us. What good fortune! Rachel is an avid reader and writer herself, and so we spent far too much of our time (according to Mike) comparing notes and opinions on books and giving recommendations to each other. It was very sad to say good-bye to her.

During our book conversations (yes, there were many), I kept coming back to the thought, Reading fills so many niches in my life. It is not just one activity, one passion, one interest. It fulfills so much of what I need and want.

Sometimes I'm in the mood for something light but engaging, a book that will pull me in and keep me turning pages late into the night. That's exactly the kind of book I wanted to read this last weekend. Luckily, I'd just received an ARC of Blackmoore in the mail (yes! an ARC! my excitement over this could fill an entire blog post by itself), and it fit the bill perfectly. (I wish I was still reading it...)

I know a lot of readers who want this type of book every time they read. Reading is their escape, and if it takes too much effort to escape, then it's just not worth it.

But for me, the need to escape is only one of the reasons I read:

I read to learn. I love nonfiction. When I was younger, I don't think I had any idea how much I would love it. But there's something so invigorating about learning something new or thinking about a subject in a new way. True, the words don't slide by quite as easily, but making the effort is so worth it.

I read to laugh. The Great Brain was one of the first books I really remember laughing over.

I read to cry. Reading is often a very active experience for me. It gets my emotions all fired up, and even if the story is completely fictional, I feel joy and sorrow in very real ways.

I read to discover other times and places. History becomes so much more real to me when I invest the time to read about it.

I read to grow my imagination. Even though I consider myself a pretty dull person, when I'm reading, I don't feel so dull (although, considering the fact that I'm sitting there with my nose in a book, maybe I should...).

I read to improve myself. It might be my parenting skills or my attitude or the way I manage my time or keep my house clean. I love diving into a book and resurfacing with good ideas (even if I already knew those things going in).

I read to spend time with my family. I was reminded of this last night when I was reading to Aaron and Maxwell before they went to bed. They were each tucked in on either side of me and listening intently to Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great by Bob Shea. After one particularly funny line (that went something like this: Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah...hilarious, right?), those two little boys cracked up. They laughed themselves silly. They threw back their heads and melted into heaps on the bed. I couldn't even continue for at least a full minute, and every time they thought of that part of the book, those same infectious giggles bubbled up again. I wouldn't have traded that moment for anything.

I read to stretch myself. That's why I made myself try a new genre this year. Reading helps me go outside my comfort zone in a very safe, introverted way.

I read to be inspired. Did you know there are people out there who have done some pretty amazing things? Reading about what other people have gone through and overcome makes me think I can conquer my battles, too.

I read to ponder. I love reading a book that makes me stop mid-page and puzzle over something in my mind or that comes back to me later in another place.

I read to be amazed by words and language. I appreciate beautiful writing so much. I know it not only takes a hefty amount of talent but also a lot of hard work and dedication to make a sentence sing or a phrase leap off the page or a word burn deep into my heart. When I encounter writing like this, it engages all my senses and fills me with awestruck gratitude.

I know there are many people who stick strictly to one genre, and I have such a difficult time understanding that. Reading extends into every part of my life, and I'm so grateful that no matter my mood or my circumstances or my needs, there's a book for that.

Why do YOU read?


  1. I read because if I didn't I would be completely empty.

  2. I love this! I read because I need to learn about other people's worlds -- and I need to have something that changes my point of view and makes me think. Plowing through so many books lately out of necessity (since I can't renew them) has reminded me how much I love reading -- and how much I need it.

  3. I completely agree with all these thoughts. I read for every single one of these reasons, and because reading is how I come to understand other people, think their thoughts, feel their emotions, and connect with humanity. Also, I read because it is a basic, primal need.

  4. Love this post! Great thoughts (sharing on Twitter, too!)

  5. Amy, I love your blog. It's one of the only 3 or 4 that I follow. Well done, woman!


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