Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Why Do You Read?

Note: This is my first attempt at "unfiltered blogging" as proposed by the lovely and extremely talented Carolyn.  Therefore, these are somewhat random thoughts with minimal forethought or editing.  

If you frequent this blog, I'm thinking that you probably read "for pleasure" at some regular interval.  If that is the case, I'm curious.  Why?  It may seem like a strange question, but I genuinely am curious.  Recently, I have noticed interesting reading habits of my own and it has made me wonder about others.   I've been reflecting on this question myself quite a bit lately and the inquiry has resulted in a variety of tentative conclusions.  

There are the obvious answers of course.  Reading is a fabulous means to learning new information or developing an understanding of a foreign concept.  This is definitely true for me.  Sometimes educational reading is mandatory (like it was for the last 19 years of my life), but many others it is simply to satisfy a curiosity.  Sometimes these books are purely informative, but they can also be entertaining, such as a memoir or historical fiction can take the reader to another time and place.  

Of course, the purpose of reading is largely dependent on the types of books someone is reading.  Which leads me to another question for you all: what kind of books do you read?  Fiction, non-fiction?  Biography, memoir?  History, self-help or short stories?  Certainly, most people don't limit themselves to one particular genre, but I know some that do.  My reading material is all over the place (as you've probably gathered).  I enjoy fiction-both classic literature and more modern fast reads.  Most of the time I am reading at least one of each.  I want to read "the classics" and enjoy a great number of them, but they often require great concentration.  I'll finish 3-4 other novels, all the while I am plugging through one piece of truly great fiction.  

I've found that these "fun" books serve a very specific purpose in my life.  I tend to read more of them when I am upset or stressed out.  Instead of vegging in front of the television (which, don't get me wrong, I also do), I escape into an easy, fast, and engaging book.  Sometimes, these might be called "chick lit", but I still believe it has great value.  Some of these books have quality writing, while others do not.  But if the story and the characters are good, it provides me with a reprieve from my own troubles.  I suppose this is not uncommon, but it's a pattern I've only recently uncovered.  

In addition to fiction, I also collect a variety of non-fiction books.  Many of these might be found under a big sign in the book store that reads "self-help".  It's such a broad category, but also comes with somewhat of a stigma.  Occasionally I've felt self-conscious browsing in the section, but I believe I've benefitted in one way or another from many of those books.  Some seem to be re-branding the genre to the more palatable "personal development".  I read these types of books because they address a particular aspect of my life I am interested in changing or because they seem to be full of inspiration and encouragement.  I confess that sometimes I may hold too much hope in a new book, believing that it will fix all my problems.  This, of course, never happens, but I have gleaned many useful skills and perspectives from reading this genre. (Some of my collection of this genre pictured above)

So far this week I have started and finished Knitting Under the Influence by Claire LaZebnik.  I think I picked it up because it reminded me of the Friday Night Knitting Club books, but it wasn't really like that. I did enjoy it (as demonstrated by 400 pages in less than 48), but more on that book in a separate post.  I write this with some guilt because I am supposed to be (and am still) reading One Hundred Years of Solitude for the online book group.  I was in the mood for something lighter, but I'm behind on reading for the group.  (Katie, don't hate me!)  I'm not sure anyone's finished it though, it seems to have been postponed.   Nevertheless, all of you have permission to chastise me if (or more likely, when) I talked about reading any other books in the near future.  

I apologize for the long-winded and some what stream-of-consciousness post.  Carolyn had an interesting idea about unfiltered posts.  Visit her blog for more info if you are interested in trying it yourself. 

And with that, I'm hitting "publish post" without looking over it again.  Typos will inevitably result.

Sidenote:  Do you ever find typos in published works?  I do, from time to time, and it's oddly thrilling!  In fact, I found one in Knitting Under the Influence.  There are three main characters in the book and at one point, only two of them go to a Thanksgiving meal.  But once the third one is mentioned (page 269 if you have the book) although she was clearly not there.    


WhimsAndInconsistencies said...

I read because I love it. I hate how I've been such a lagging reader for so long because when I sit down and read, I'm really truly loving what I'm doing. Yet I still easily get pulled away from it by other tasks.

I don't hate you for being behind on Solitude because I am too. I think it's a beautiful book that I have thoroughly enjoyed reading, but I have a difficult time making the time and it does require me to be in a certain mood. I had some big chunks of time for reading last week but had a cold and felt like poo and was unwilling to concentrate.

(This comment is long and all over the place. In response to your unfiltered blogging, I am unfiltered commenting.)

I have a huge thing for fiction. I try to read non-fiction but normally that doesn't go well unless it's fiction-y non-fiction, like Under the Tuscan Sun or books about Jane Austen or grammar, and even those can be tricky at times. Ex: I had to get the World is Flat which I was supposed to read for an internship but never did. I keep thinking I should read it because it's supposed to be so amazing, but I really just have a negative desire to do that.

PS The book that will solve all your problems is Pride and Prejudice. Maybe you should read it again. ;)

Caitlin said...

Okay McB, I'll add P&P to my list again :) I enjoyed your unfiltered comments! I'm about to go write another unfiltered post!