Wednesday, June 13, 2007

OPEN DISCUSSION - Why do you read?

In a call for topics, "little willow" asks:

"Why do you read? Do you look for books that are similar to YOUR life or vastly different?"

So, are you looking to relate or escape?


Jennifer said...

I read for pleasure and a little for work (ya librarian), but mostly I read whatever catches either my eye (yes I do judge a book by it's cover) or my interest.

MarPerez said...

both! I like to be able to relate to the characters in some way, but I also want to be taken to a new place when I read.


MaryP said...

I always look for books that relate to my life on some level, but perhaps in unfamiliar packaging so I can see it fresh or with a new perspective. For instance, a classic favorite of mine is The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. The characters and setting are vastly different from my life--maybe that is the escape part--but the emotions of need, survival, rejection, regret, and betrayal are universal. It makes me look at all of these human struggles and relate them to my own world and experience. So I guess the short answer is, both.

Laura Wiess said...

I read to meet characters and enjoy their stories, to escape, learn, laugh, cry, get scared (I love it when an author can truly terrify me), angst, get happy, get furious, root for the characters, and go off on a journey that I might not want to experience in real life but absolutely love experiencing vicariously. (Think Silence of the Lambs or Salem's Lot or The Beans of Egypt, Maine, or The Painted Bird, here.) I love odd, offbeat, quirky characters, and I love when their behavior seems real but always just a little off 'normal.'

I read because I love to.

Erin said...

Both both both! But the best thing is a book that I can relate to and escape with at the same time.

Lisa Yee said...

I read because I can't stop myself. It's an affliction, but a lovely one.

I read books that are similar and different, so I can relate and escape.

htw said...

eeeek! I'm definitely an escaper...if I want to relate, it's to an alien, a fairy, a talking animal, a golden serpent armband (check out Clare Dunkle's Hollow Kingdom trilogy!), or something else equally otherworldly. I don't often want to relate to anything in the real world...while I'd love to apologize for sometimes being kinda creepy, it'd be a lie. Love the YA Author Café! Keep up the good work.
P.S. in absolute contradiction to everything I've said above and hinging on the Laura Wiess commenting above being the author of Such A Pretty Girl, I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED your book and personally hunted down and hounded our teen librarian and those in my YA materials and services class in library school to make them read and recommend it! Don't make us wait too long for the next! Sorry to blab OT guys...sort of ;D

Greg said...

I never read to escape. I'm mostly drawn to real-life stories, rarely fantasy. Although my books are all fantasy. Strange, I know.

Greg Trine

Little Willow said...

Thank you, Cafe, for selecting and sharing this question! I have posted it at my blog, Bildungsroman, as well.

Why do you read?

Thank you to everyone who has answered thus far. Keep those comments coming!

SAH said...

I read as much as I can, and I read all kind of books. As a child, I liked to read but I did not have easy access to books. In high school, the assigned books bored me, and I did not have time to read because of work and school. I think I am making up for lost time. Books of all kinds give me joy.

Jen Robinson said...

I read because I love stories, the bigger and bolder and more complex the better. I guess that puts me in the escapist camp, though I do often find that certain books resonate with me in unexpected ways. I enjoy realistic fiction, with occasional forays into fantasy, but I rarely read non-fiction.

laura wiess said...

Why, thank you, htw! I'm so glad you enjoyed Pretty Girl!

Jonathan said...

I read for
1] school (but not any longer),
2] pleasure (books that will show me something)
3] research (books that will teach me something)
4] recommendations (to keep up with the Joneses)
5] classics (to be well-read)
6] personal development (to grow in faith, skills, and leadership)

Little Willow said...

Here's the new link:

And my answer:

I don't necessarily seek out books with plots which are similar to my own life. I'm grateful that my life hasn't been as predictable or as angst-ridden as those depicted in many books.

I read to relate AND to escape. Sometimes, I need a book to distract me from real life; other times, I need a book that calms me down.

I read a wide variety of books because I enjoy a variety of topics. I enjoy books that make me think. I'm just as likely to pick up a book about mathematics as I am about Ancient Egypt. I'll read a new teen fiction release one day and a classic British novel the next.

I read fiction because I love stories.

I read non-fiction because I love truth.

I read every single day because I love words.

Lorie Ann Grover said...

A poem from my novel LOOSE THREADS answers this question for me:


I read
in the empty time.
I read at doctors' offices.
I read after nightmares.
I read when I hide out in the bathroom
and rest my head against the toilet paper roll.
I turn page after page,
in book after book.
Other kids
suffer in novels.
I'm not the only one.
My stuff
could be worse.

I hold the open book to my face
and breathe deep.
The ink paper smell
fills me up.
Each author
is a friend saying,
"There's hope.

Heather Brewer said...

I read to become other people, to live other lives. In short, to escape.

Romanov Princess said...

I would say that I normally read to escape. That is why I'm such a nfan of fantasy and science fiction as iooised ti realistic fiction. This way, when my life is not going well, or I'm not hapy with my life - I can enter a perfect world, and live a perfect life, where everything comes together perfectly.

Another favorite genre of mine, which descirbes another facet of my personality is historical fiction as well as historical nonfiction. I think that the only way to learn of the future is to examine the past, and what better way to do it than to read?

thenovicewriter said...

Hey...I am a newcomer to this blog, but I found your question intriguing so...

I read for many reasons, one of them being because I have to. In no particular order:
(1) Reading is like my fix: I feel weird if I am not reading.
(2)To stay up to date with the market: if something became a bestseller (mostly in the children's or young adult market), I like to read it to find out why. If it receives an award, I also like to read it to find out why.
(3)I read for a break/a distraction: I want something with exciting characters, full of life, and a world full of mystery and intrigue - just so my own life doesn't feel as boring. (Escapism)
(4)I read to learn. I just read Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith, and I was surprised by her use of sparse language and short chapters: I learned something knew about writing from her!
(5)Finally, I read to learn more about myself and more about how I am feeling or to even replicate how I am feeling. I read The Time Traveler's Wife for this reason, and strongly related to her story of love, longing, and waiting. The same goes for Bloom by Elizabeth Scott: I thought Scott did a great job capturing one of the things I, too, became obsessed with in high school: perfection. (Relating)

Shannon said...

people read for many things. Some wants more information. It helps them in the long run. If you read you know. When you read story book, If you find something interesting, may be something you want in your life, As you can see it does help. Same for me.
I would say like others "The more you read, the more you learn"

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Library Goddess said...

I read to escape. Books are like drugs to me. When I don't find time to read each day, I really feel awful, like I didn't get my "fix" for the day. Of course, I have never taken drugs so I don't know for sure.

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