Why I Read
I am an avid reader, but that wasn’t always the case, regretfully. I’ve only been an avid reader since 2015. I was born in 1989. So, I’m a late bloomer.
In elementary school they would always give us a summer reading list and I remember reading those books and enjoying it. I fondly remember Artemis Fowl, in particular, but that was toward the end of my elementary school days so I’m sure the recency effect is at play there. Since it was summer I had a lot of idle time between hunting for insects and amphibians in the woods. Reading seemed as good an activity as any to fill that time.
During the school year, it was a different matter. I often didn’t to the assigned readings and when I did it was a struggle to complete them. What is it about school work that can turn a simple task like reading into torture? I never figured that out. All I knew was I didn’t want to read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or A Christmas Carol or any other book by an Author who had died before my parents were even a zygote. I probably don’t need to add that I did no reading (fiction at least) on my own for fun during this time. How could I? Between school work, caring for my dozen pets, watching my favorite cartoons, and looking for insects and amphibians ‘aint nobody got time for reading.’ I did read some non-fiction books on science and nature, however, as any kid who spent as much time in the woods as I did would have.
Flash forward to High School and I was no more interested in reading as I had been as a pre-teen. This never hampered my grades however. I read what I had to, to get my As and Bs, but never any more than that. For me reading was too idle a hobby. It took too long to finish a book and you were just sitting in a chair doing what felt like nothing. It wasn’t for me. During this time I developed a real love of movies which lasted through college and into adulthood (though now I’m beginning to appreciate a good TV series more). Movies offered visual stimulation and they were over in less than 2.5 hours (Maybe 3.5 if it was Peter Jackson). If I had to read for 2.5 hours straight my eyes would hurt and I still wouldn’t be done with the book.
After college All this changed thanks to two things: Game of Thrones and writing. A friend got me hooked on Game of Thrones, though I didn’t need much convincing after flipping through the channels and stumbling upon the last scene of Season 1 Episode 10. I started reading forums about it and kept seeing people praising the books. Ok, I thought, the books probably are good and have a lot more depth. Maybe I should read them one day.
Then, for some reason I’m not 100% sure of, I got it in my mind that one day I would like to be an author. I started reading people’s suggestions on how to be a better writer and one that came up again and again was ‘Read’. “Read fiction. Read Non-fiction. Read EVERYDAY.” Shit! I wanted to improve my writing so I decided I was going to start reading. I was out of school and working for myself so I had a lot of free time like those idle summers in elementary school. It was as good a time as any to start. I decided to read ten short stories and A Game of Thrones. The short stories (from various authors) were good, but when I started reading A Game of Thrones something inside of me clicked. I was having fun reading the book! When I was done I went to the library and got other books and read those too, and enjoyed them equally as much. I was becoming a reader in my old age.
I have had a different book on my desk ever since I finished A Game of Thrones. I’m sorry I didn’t start reading for fun earlier, but I guess I needed the right motivation: wanting to improve my own writing. Now I appreciate reading for other reasons as well. It makes you smarter (Not just non-fiction. There’s stuff to learn in fiction too). It’s relaxing (I now appreciate sitting in a chair and doing “nothing”). Books have more depth (If a story is an iceberg, the movie is only what you see sticking out of the surface of the water. The book is the whole thing). They help with empathy (through reading someone’s story, even a fictional character’s, you’re walking in someone else’s shoes, seeing an experience you might never have seen otherwise. Movies do this too, of course). Evidence shows reading improves memory and brain function. And it’s cheap entertainment compared to going to the movies (Libraries cost you nothing).
I’m happy to say that I am a reader for life. Thank you, George R.R. Martin for Game of Thrones.