In May 2022, a post by Penguin Books Australia popped up in my Facebook timeline memories from 2017, challenging readers to finish this sentence: “I like reading because …”
A keen reader since childhood, I’d responded:
“Because it opens my eyes and mind to other places and possibilities.”
Other responses to the 2017 post included: “It opens my thinking”, “Escapism”, and “Helps me switch off from the stresses of the day”.
ABC Book Club Responses
When the Penguin Books post appeared in my timeline memories, I shared it with the ABC Book Club on Facebook. And I enjoyed seeing the wide range of responses from fellow Book Clubbers as to why they like reading:
- I can escape reality!
- It puts me to sleep.
- I like sanity. And I don’t think I would be sane without books to read.
- My mental health depends upon reading novels.
- I get a sneak peek into someone else’s head/life. And as a bonus, I think it makes me more well-rounded and generally more intelligent, open-minded and compassionate.
- It lets me step into someone else’s shoes and transports me into another life.
- I am amazed at all the different worlds, brains, ideas, concepts and sets of imaginations I get to visit and be involved in.
- I like reading because of the wonderful characters I meet, the places I visit, and the stories I discover.
- It eases my guilt after I have purchased 30 more books on top of the 50 I have that I’m yet to read.
- It teaches me new things all the time.
- I like reading because a good book is like a beautiful mind massage. And because you can follow another human’s story, that becomes your own intimate, personal experience.
- I like to escape.
- Nothing compares with reading.
- You can escape somewhere else for a few hours.
- It takes me to places I may never get to visit and experience things I may never have thought of.
- It’s my happy place.
- I learn and experience different things.
- It’s food for my mind.
- I like reading because books have always been my best friend. Better than a pet rock (which I seemed to have misplaced in moving house) because books actually tell you stuff.
- I learn from it and enjoy meeting new characters and travelling to new places with each book.
- It beats travelling on a plane. And if I am on a plane, there’s a better journey in the book.
- Reading gives me so much enjoyment. And I learn so much about just about everything and everywhere.
- Quoting Gough Whitlam, libraries are the poor people’s encyclopaedia.
- Sometimes it’s better than the reality I am facing.
- It makes me connect with humanity in all its forms.
- I’m incurably curious and seek information.
- I get to escape reality and go to other worlds without leaving home.
- Reading takes me places. And if it’s a really good book, I live the experience in my mind.
- I love books and can get lost in their stories.
- I’m happy when I’m reading.
- Every story creates the most vivid imagery in my mind and leaves me with tales of what it means to be human.
- It takes me to another time and world and ideas.
- Reading takes me to another zone where I can completely relax.
- It opens my mind — both fiction and nonfiction. Growing up, I read so much nonfiction, as I didn’t see fiction as relevant — it’s just made-up stuff, right? Thankfully as an adult, I learned to value it so much more. But I still love nonfiction.
- I love reading because it takes me to different places, and I get to meet different people and take a peak into their lives.
- It takes me to places and situations I am unable to access physically.
- To go to other worlds with different people from the comfort of my sofa.
- I get to talk about books with you crazy dysfunctional loveable b******s.
Other Worlds and Minds
A common theme among the Book Clubbers’ responses was similar to mine in 2017, that reading allows us to explore other worlds and minds. And this reminded me of Neil Gaiman‘s quote about short stories:
“[They] are tiny windows into other worlds and other minds and other dreams. They are journeys you can make to the far side of the universe and still be back in time for dinner.”
I’ve quoted Gaiman in my collections of short stories. And judging by the responses to the Penguin Books post, the sentiment holds true for reading, too.
And what about you? Why do you like reading?
© 2022 Robert Fairhead
Note: This post originally appeared on the Tall And True writers’ website.
N.B. You might like to read another blog post about a question posed by Penguin Books on Facebook, The Last Book That Made You Cry.
Welcome to the blog posts and selected writing of a middle-aged dad and dog owner. Robert Fairhead is a writer and editor at the Tall And True writers' website, and he writes and narrates episodes for the Tall And True Short Reads podcast. In addition, his book reviews and other writing have appeared in various print and online media, and he's published three collections of short stories. Please see Robert's profile for full details.