I was talking to a co-worker the other day about a book I’d read recently, and realized how very, very few people I can do that with. In my daily life, it seems like almost no-one reads anything more than a newspaper or a fashion magazine. I only have one person I can truly chat about books with … and yet, being a Capital-R-Reader, I simply can’t imagine going through life without a book constantly at hand, or shelves of them proudly displayed downstairs. I’m proud of being a person who not only reads, but who reads a lot–not just in volume but in variety. I like having an inquiring mind. I like exploring new ideas. I love following an intricately plotted story (the more layers the better). I love BEING a reader and simply can’t imagine what it’s like to go through life without being one.
Am I the only one who feels this way? That wonders at how other people can simply NOT do something that should be so essential? Who feels almost sad that so many people seem content to go through their lives without stretching their mental wings at all?
Can you imagine NOT being a Reader? How does it shape your life? Your perception of it?
How does being a Reader affect your relationship with all those folks who are looking at it from the other side and simply can’t understand how you can sit and READ all the time?
Here's my response and don't forget to check the comments on the BTT site for everyone else's.
I think I approach this a little differently than most writers. You see, I am a reader, but not with a capital R. I've read a lot in the past and I love books. I go through periods where I read one book right after another. But I also go through periods where I don't read at all. The more I write the harder I find it to read - I'd rather lose myself in the world I create than what someone else created. My reading has become more about research and technique than pure enjoyment.
When I was a kid, escaping into the characters' lives was one of the greatest joys of reading. Now, as an adult, I'm pretty happy with the life that I have. I don't think I'm too busy to read, but when I have free time I'd rather be doing something active. Outside. With other people. I don't have to escape to a different world - I really enjoy living in the real world I have. There are so many aspects of life that enrich, challenge, educate, enthrall, amaze and entertain me. I don't need to read to get that.
I still do like to escape now and then. I couldn't imagine never reading. But what I get out of reading I also get elsewhere. I think many people do. What's most important is that people learn and grow, stretch their minds and experience new and different things, understand the world beyond themselves. Books are such an incredibly great way to do that, but they're not the only way.