Friday, June 6, 2014

Why I Read So Much

As I have mentioned here before, I often read several books at the same time. In addition, I may be listening to an audiobook in my car, and reading stories in magazines. So during any period of time, I have several stories streaming through my mind, and I thrive on that. I sometimes wonder if this love of, even dependence on, a constant stream of stories is maybe a little unhealthy, a means of escape or avoidance of my real life. On the other hand, I revel in the way so many stories open up the world to so much knowledge of how people live and feel in so many places, so many contexts, so many situations. In what other way could I possibly be exposed to such a panoply of human experience? And to such knowledge? In what other way could I both realize the variety of human experience and understand its universals? To me, what reading, especially reading fiction, does for us is a miracle, a way of extending ourselves out into the world. Yes, our own experiences are very important, as are those of our family and friends and others we know, observe, and speak with firsthand. Yes, there are other important ways to extend our experiences, such as education and travel, which I also value highly. But nothing else can give us the breadth of experience than reading can. And the huge bonus is that reading is also such a rich and enjoyable experience. I know the above thoughts are not original by any means, but once in a while I like to stop and reflect on the grandness, depth and breadth that reading brings to our lives.
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