why I read
A couple of years ago, I made another (my third) attempt at joining an organized book club. As an incessant reader over many, many years, I’ve been involved in surprisingly few organized book-club groups.
For quite a while now, I’ve had a private “quiet book club” of sorts in that, over coffee most mornings, a friend and I chat about the books we’re each reading. But we’ve never actually read the same books.
Over the past fifteen years or so, I’ve been to only one meeting each of two different book-club groups. And after that one meeting, I knew that neither of those groups suited me for one reason or another.
At my first meeting of this (third) book club, I was asked, “Why do you read?”
Off the top of my head, and on the spot, the best answer I could come up with was that it’s simply something I’ve always done. I started reading early in life and, well, never stopped. Which is true, but it doesn’t really answer the question. Here’s a more complete answer …
Are you, like me, an introvert? A solitary sort? Love to travel but also love to stay home? If so, you can always find a good book to keep you company. A book that allows you to explore new places, experience different time periods or alternate worlds, unravel intellectual mysteries, and meet fascinating new people, without having to actually go anywhere.
And well-researched books — whether novels, historical fiction, history, or even the occasional non-fiction title — are a great way to satisfy a wide-ranging curiosity. It’s a good thing, indeed, when your book-reading habit teaches you, as mine has recently, more than you ever knew about wolves in the wild, Irish history, the nineteenth-century whaling industry, fifteenth-century printing presses, and so much more. What truly fascinating things have you learned recently?
Sometimes, when you want or need to clear your head and find a moment of peace and quiet, the best possible place to find that moment is outside: a walk in the woods, a seat in the shade. But sometimes that moment can be found – or created – in any quiet corner with a book.
And if reading at home also means winding up with a cat on your lap, what could possibly be wrong with that?