Why Do I Read?

I finished reading three books last week. You might have read one or ten or none at all, which is okay. The point I want to make is not to hype up reading as some sort of virtue, but to get behind the why.

Why do I read?

The answers I usually come up with are the same you probably would’ve thought in your head: it improves vocabulary, thinking, writing, etc.
However I believe that these are just by-products of my main reason for reading.

The main reason I read is because I like it. That’s it. I enjoy getting out of my head and diving into another, seeing their world, thinking their thoughts, feeling their emotions.

At least that’s what I thought the reason was.

What I realised recently is that this phenomenon of books taking me out of my head into another world is, as Jordan Peterson said in one of his lectures, kind of a window into the transcendent.

What that means is, these books that I read show me that there is more to this life, that there is a higher purpose, a realm which we cannot understand with our finite minds.

And what stirs these thoughts are simple actions and words of the author through the characters in the book. Simple acts of kindness, bravery or loyalty stirs within me a longing to experience the same or act the same way, a longing that seemingly cannot be fulfilled in the here and now.

This all seems a bit abstract to you, doesn’t it? I myself am still wrapping my head around this, and it’s taken me a while to figure out why I read books, if not for the normal reasons like improving this or that.

I read because I like it. I like it because it points me to the transcendent. Every other benefit that reading has is just a by-product.

Here’s a suggestion before I conclude: think about the reason you read books (or don’t). Pick up one that interests you, even if it’s a short one. Start reading and see if it’s stirring your mind and heart. If it doesn’t, drop it. Pick up another one and see if it does. Repeat till you find a book that moves you.

Trust me, the pleasure you derive from reading a book that moves you will be worth the effort.

P.S. I didn’t read those 3 books in one week, it took me many weeks to read through them. I just happened to finish all three in the same week. I’m not a superhuman.

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Image credit: Pexels

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