Saturday, April 23, 2011

Why do YOU read?

It's Book Fair week in the Children's Room. That means a lot of time at my desk. It also means a lot of time to catch up on things like professional journals and literary blogs. A lot of reading time, but also a lot of thinking and introspection time. And sometimes, just sometimes, I read an article or a blog post, or a sentence even, that gets me really thinking.

This time it happened to be a paragraph in Rogert Ebert's Sun Times Journal column. Of all things to happen, the king of movie reviews got me thinking about why we read. And why we read WHAT we read.

Here's the paragraph (and the link to the column, if you want to read what started me on this train of thought):
"There is no pattern. My only goal is to enjoy reading. I learned that the average American teenager spends 17 minutes a weekend in voluntary reading. Surely that statistic is wrong. Do they mean reading of "serious" novels? I would certainly count science fiction, graphic novels, vampires, Harry Potter, newspapers, magazines, blogs--anything. Just to read for yourself for pleasure is the point. Dickens will come later, Henry James perhaps never."

My first thought was ... Why do we read? And I didn't have an immediate answer. I still don't.

I know an awful lot of people who would answer that question, "Because my teacher (or mom, or tutor, or father...) makes me" It's only natural; I work in a public library, in the Children's Room. A lot of the patrons I see are here for "assignment" reading. But there are so many who are here just to find the next good book to read.

In fact, just a few minutes ago as I was typing this, a thirteen year old girl came up and asked for my help in starting a book club. She and a bunch of her friends want to meet monthly and talk about books. Just for fun. When I told her that made my day, she laughed. But I was serious. A group of teens who want to meet and talk about books. That's joy to any librarians ears. And it's absolute bliss to any reader's ears.

I keep hearing (and reading) about how books are dead, librarians are so last century, reading has gone by the wayside, we don't need libraries because we all have Google, and did I mention ... books are dead? Funny thing that, but they really aren't. I read them, I buy them, I collect them, I loan them and borrow them, I sell them, and I help people find them all day long. Yes, the format is changing for many of them, and I will be the first to admit that I love my Kindle. I love ebooks. They are so convenient. A little too convenient, one might say; it's just so very easy to buy one, read it, and buy the next one. So books are not dead. (Well, technically, they are dead trees, but that's a whole nother thing....).

This isn't about book, anyways. Its about READING. And I still don't have an answer to my question. I know why I read. There are a plethora of reasons, depending upon what reading material we are discussing. And there will likely be a future blog post about why I read.

What I really want to know is ~ Why do YOU read?

So leave a comment. Ask your friends, and have them leave a comment. Feel free to pass this question around. Tell me why you read. You can tell me what and when and how and where, too. But what I really want to know is WHY.

I look forward to the answers. Thanks for listening; and now ~ I'M Listening.

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