Why I Like to Read

by Ron Vitale

 Please welcome book reviewer, Megan Monell, of the Love, Literature, Art and Reason blog to my website. She was kind enough to agree to writing a blog post about why she likes to read. Do you have similar reasons? Leave a comment below to let her know.

Reading is a hobby that I've always enjoyed. As a kid, I was an only child and books kept me company when I moved around a lot and couldn't always make friends quickly. I used to devour any middle grade book I could get my hands on, especially ones with fantastic plots. I loved the idea of magic and adventure. I loved seeing heroes and heroines, especially kids like me, battle amazing creatures and learn hard truths.
I lost interest in reading for pleasure as a teenager for various reasons, but I still enjoyed English class and dissecting required books. A lot of people seem to dislike the books they read in school, but those books were the ones that changed me and made me fall in love with reading all over again. Those books were the ones that made me understand the world we live in.

Books have an uncanny ability to make us look at the world around us a little more closely. Hard hitting documentaries and emotionally charged articles exist to make valid points about life, but none of them impact the human soul the way I think books impact mine. No news article about government corruption has made my spine tingle the way 1984 by George Orwell did when I first read it. No documentary about greed shook me the way The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde did. These books and the concepts in them have stayed with me when newspapers, movies, and television shows fade in my memory. I'm such a visual person, but there are scenes in books that stay imprinted in my memory unlike any movie scene.

Reading is my passion because other forms of entertainment don't challenge me the way books do. I can read how I want, interpret things, imagine scenes, and process the information in any way I'd like. I can slow down, stop, or rush through a book rapidly. My emotions aren't manipulated by effects, acting, or timing like they are with television and movies. In a way, I feel that written stories are the most honest of all stories and it takes individuals to make them all come alive in their own ways.

There’s no other feeling like reading the opening sentence of a book and feeling yourself fall into the pages. There’s nothing quite like opening a previously read book and experiencing a story all over again in a different way. Pieces of me are inside the pages of every book I read and as life changes or even something as small as my mood, the entire story can change before my eyes. There has always been a main character who spoke to me, an adventure I needed to experience, or a lesson I needed to learn. There have been books that have touched my soul when I needed it most, like The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, and books that have made me reflect on my life, like Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. I could gather a book for each lesson, each issue, and each moment of reflection and prescribe them like medicine to others or myself.

I like to read because it is a part of who I am. It makes me wiser as I experience lessons I never would have been had the chance to otherwise. George R.R. Martin said through the character of Jojen in his series, A Song of Ice and Fire, "A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… The man who never reads lives only one." Reading has made me smarter, more experienced, wiser, more aware, and perhaps more caring because I’ve lived more than just my own short life.

When life is hard, it’s nice to be able to escape into a book where things are simpler. Being able to do that helps me get through tough times, like when my husband goes out to sea in the Navy. And when life is easy, it’s great to be able to jump into a book where the world is much more challenging. Being able to escape into a harsher world prevents me from becoming bored or complacent. And many times, vicariously experiencing the drama of fictional characters prevents me from creating some in my own life and helps me avoid it. My life without books would be quite different.