Let’s go back to the basics. The very fundamentals, the building blocks, whatever you want to call them. But the truth is- this is a book blog and the very first thing you learn in connection with books is how to read them.
Why do I like reading? It’s a good question, and just like all good questions- it’s a hard one to answer. My parents think that people praised me for reading and I got addicted to the praise and started connecting the praise to the reading in some sort of demented Pavlov’s experiment like relationship. But I like to think my love for reading was born out of something less shallow than a desire to be praised. Or even if it was born out of that shallow desire, it’s evolved into something more mature and less laugh-provoking.
I started reading at age 3 and I started with really simple stuff. Stuff like ‘Pat has a bat.’ Four words. A simple sentence but it evokes a whole picture in your mind, doesn’t it? For me, it evokes the picture of a little blonde girl with her hair in pigtails and bent knees preparing to swing an aluminium baseball bat, but you might automatically think of a tall gothic lady with fangs, wearing a blood-red strapless gown with a pet bat perched on her shoulder.
What I’m trying to say is reading gives you control over a world. From the tiniest description, you are able to mold and shape something that you would have never been able to imagine before. And when you read a lot, you can piece together everything you’ve read to create a marvelous new world of your own.
And contrary to what some people think (you know who you are) reading does not immerse you in a quagmire of fantasy where you have no idea how to differentiate between what is real and what is unreal. On the contrary, I’d say that reading gives you a wider persepective and allows you to see reality from more angles than one. Reading is a window into another world, into lives and manifestations of it you never knew existed.
I don’t know what it’s like to be poor. I don’t know what it’s like to be French. Or to be gay. But by reading I have a better idea of what it would be like to be poor or French or gay than someone else who doesn’t read. I can empathize with them, I have a better insight into their ambitions, their psychology and their dreams than I did before. I know just how similar they are to me and how they are different.
I never saw the bloodthirsty violence of an oppressed public during the French Revolution. I never had to deal with the cunning, scheming intrigue of the Ton. I never endured the harsh, gritty life of miners looking for gold in California in 1949. Only wait! I have. Not first-hand, but I have seen it second-hand.
Reading makes me smarter. It gives me a better understanding of the world. It’s fun. What’s not to love?
Reading doesn’t just help me disappear into a whole new world, it helps me find things. It’s an easy way to find out about other people’s dreams, hopes, ambitions and fears.
Reading isn’t a choice. It’s a lifestyle.
“Reading one book is like eating one potato chip.”- Diane Duane, So You Want to be a Wizard