Why I Read
By: Adam Sockel, Marketing Specialist & co-host of the Professional Book Nerds podcast.
I consider myself very lucky when it comes to my employment. I’ve always loved the concept of books. If you’ll excuse the pun, the fact that all you need to do to discover a new world is open a book remains such a novel idea to me. Now, I read for a living. Part of my job is to inform our partners about the goings on at OverDrive as well as in the literary world. I also interview authors every week for our podcast and I do my best to read the books of every author I speak with. But that’s not WHY I read…
Lately, I’ve found myself spending most days filled with an anxiousness to get home and dive back into whatever book I’m currently reading. Writing has long been my way to disappear from things, be it my own words or the prose of someone far more talented. Over the last week, I’ve been thinking about why this minor anxiety is stronger than normal. This led me to create this post. There will always be a myriad of reasons why other people lose themselves in stories. These are the reasons why I read.
I read for escapism. I read to hide from the world. Because when I open a book, I can disappear from the questions of my world. It doesn’t matter if that book is the weathered, 100-years-old copy of The Brothers Karamazov lovingly pilfered from my grandmother’s bookshelf when I discovered she shared my love of Russian lit or the brand new masterpiece Pachinko on my state-of-the-art iPhone. For a few fleeting moments, I’m not concerned with politics or what my purpose is in this universe or even what I need to make for dinner. In these moments, I know that to find out what happens next, I need only turn a page.
I read for nostalgia. Growing up, I loved the creations of Jim Henson and Disney as much as any child ever has. This meant that I spent countless hours with Aladdin, The Fraggles, Simba, Buzz and Woody and Kermit and the gang. So when I came across Wintersong, which is described as a cross between the Labyrinth and Beauty and the Beast, I was hooked. I can’t tell you how many times I explored the tangled world of the Goblin King with my sister. This book brought me back to those popcorn-filled afternoons. Books have a way of stirring emotions like few other mediums can. I don’t have the ability to return to the simple perfection of those moments on the couch but while in the pages of this tale I was able to recapture the whimsy of those fond memories.
I read to share stories with those I love. It should come as no surprise that my mother is an avid reader and the woman I married often finds herself lost in the pages of a good book as well. Nearly every conversation I have with mom begins with the books we’re currently reading. Half the fun of reading a wonderful story is being able to close the book and find someone to discuss it with. My wife and I have spent untold hours talking about the books we’ve just finished, the books we’ll be reading next and the books we can’t wait to add to our collection. The fact that I get to chat about these books with the authors who wrote them doesn’t hurt either.
I read to continuously acquire knowledge. To get insight from authors of different cultures than my own. To gain understanding and appreciation for lives and experiences I’ve not had. You don’t need an unlimited travel budget to learn about people who may not look, sound or live like you. Reading diverse books from authors with backgrounds or belief systems that you’re unfamiliar with is a perfect way to have a more informed view of the world. You don’t have to agree with what they believe in or stand for, but that should not stop you from learning why they believe.
I read because I fervently believe that words can and forever will change the world.
I read because I still believe magic is real and that “happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
I read because writers notice the things I wish I did. The simple perfection of the decor on the walls of an Irish pub. The glint of an eye. The weathered cracks of a grandfather’s hand as they rest silently in his lap. Reading descriptive prose about the world an author is building leads me to be more aware of my surroundings. After reading a book that does a particularly good job describing the details of a setting I find myself imminently more aware of beautiful subtleties in the world.
I read for a million reasons and more but mostly I read because it makes me happy. I read because I know that, regardless of how stressful my life is at any given moment, all I need to do for a moments’ worth of happiness is to open my OverDrive app or a new book. I read because, sometimes, that moment is all you need.