Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Why Do You Read?

It was a conversation on one of my "added" books on Goodreads recently. If I had known that adding a certain novel as "to-read" would elicited such a conversation, I don't know that I would have marked it! LOL. Yes, I still would have and it gave me a wonderful idea for an interactive blog post.

Why do you read?

There are several reasons people want and like to read:

  • To escape
  • To be edified
  • Entertained
  • Because to them, reading a good book is the only exercise in silence they will receive the entire day :-)
  • All of them above
I am one of those people that is "all of the above" option. But I break off on several issues and I don't have to have all four to be satisfied with my reading choice. Let's take a look at them one at a time from my personal perspective.

To escape from normal living
Books for me have always proven to be an escape. They are better than real life- most of the time- and you are always guaranteed a happy ending. :-) Reading is more than a pastime, it is what I do a great deal of the time! And if you asked my family, probably a great deal more than I should. Shhh. ;-)

To be edified
This is a bit more tricky for me. I refuse to read mainstream fiction. I know we are told we really should see what else is out there beyond the Christian realm, especially when you are studying the writing craft, but having been raised in a strong Christian faith, I cannot take copious amounts of language- or the worry I will come across some. It might be real life, but it doesn't have to invade my favorite activity.

You will only find me with Christian fiction. With that realm you will find the "loudly preaching", the "soft whispers" or the "subtle thread". All three of which I have read- and enjoyed. I am not going to read fiction that tears down my values or promotes something I don't stand for, but in the end I do not have to walk away with a great spiritual truth or even a strong faith element. But flip the coin for a moment, fiction done right with a strong spiritual message that does buoy my faith in Christ is going to have a greater impact.

This is where a great deal of the wheat is separated from the chaff- as it where- do you want spiritual feeding or are you satisfied with a good story that might hover on the fringes?

Almost- not all- but almost all of the CF I have read has always had some faith element- beyond mere attendance of a church. Often it is the underlying convictions of the characters that can speak the most loudly. Only you can be the judge if it is satisfactory to you are not.

Pardon me for making this longer, but I have to share this example with you. I recently finished a book that didn't have an overt faith message. But when I got to the end, the character was confronted with his own faith issues and saw through the eyes of a child the love of God. When I closed the book, it did have a spiritual impact on me, because I saw the subtle changes that had been happening to the characters through the book. It made me appreciate his heroism in certain areas that much more. That book became more than just a good story. It had impact. And often that is all a book needs- the well written subtly of a master storyteller, coached by the Master Wordsmith.

In my opinion, subtly often speaks much louder than the strongest message or words. I look forward to digging deeper into this book again the future.

A good book entertains. Again, why do you read? I think this ties in a great deal with my comments above, so I won't pontificate much longer. A book for me is thus: entertainment and an escape into a created world that will move me with the prose and the strength of the characters. In the end I want to feel satisfied. Whether it was a value, whether the characters grew from their shortcomings, I want to be encouraged that I to can do better, even if I don't have the same struggles.

In many ways we all want to be fed. Spiritually and the heart of us that wants more than just cheap entertainment. This can be such a great controversial issue, but the fact of the matter is: no one is right or wrong in this case. It is a matter of conviction and like taste in good food and books, no one will have the same opinion. So this bodes the question, if you have lasted through such a long post (sorry!), why do you read??


  1. Great question, Casey! For me, one of the biggest reasons I read is to get away - to escape to a different land/culture/timeperiod, etc. I just love to be so immersed in a book that, when I finish, I have to take a few moments to return! :-P lol It's a wonderful experience!

    Now, I do read it for entertainment, but I want the books I read to be clean as well as edifying to me. It's not fun to read a book that you have to dodge through or, when you get to the end, don't feel like you can take something away with you. It just makes the story that much sweeter and more dear when you can relate to something in the book.

    Great question, Casey! I was a silent observer to that discussion on GoodReads - wow! :-)

    ~ Katy

  2. I think more than you were observers to that conversation!

    I like what you said there. Yes, I have to read something clean, because there is nothing more jarring than to come across something that pulls you out of storyworld. And immersion is diffently a must for me too. Reminds me of Julie Lessman's books. She has it all! :)

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts today!


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