Booking Through Thursday–Being a Reader


hosted by Booking Through Thursday

This week’s question:

I was talking to a co-worker the other day about a book I’d read recently, and realized how very, very few people I can do that with. In my daily life, it seems like almost no-one reads anything more than a newspaper or a fashion magazine. I only have one person I can truly chat about books with … and yet, being a Capital-R-Reader, I simply can’t imagine going through life without a book constantly at hand, or shelves of them proudly displayed downstairs. I’m proud of being a person who not only reads, but who reads a lot–not just in volume but in variety. I like having an inquiring mind. I like exploring new ideas. I love following an intricately plotted story (the more layers the better). I love BEING a reader and simply can’t imagine what it’s like to go through life without being one.

Am I the only one who feels this way? That wonders at how other people can simply NOT do something that should be so essential? Who feels almost sad that so many people seem content to go through their lives without stretching their mental wings at all?

Can you imagine NOT being a Reader? How does it shape your life? Your perception of it?

How does being a Reader affect your relationship with all those folks who are looking at it from the other side and simply can’t understand how you can sit and READ all the time?

Yep, it’s a long-winded, philosophical springboard to a ephemeral conversation … go, see what you can make of it!

It’s funny because I was JUST thinking about something like this the other day.

I think it’s unfair to say that people who don’t read all the time don’t stretch their mental wings. After all, my husband doesn’t read a lot of books, but he’s always looking things up, learning how to do new things, reading manuals, getting into new hobbies, and thinking about scientific and philosophical things all the time. To me, there’s two categories of non-readers – those who do something else to exercise their brains and those who don’t exercise their brains at all. For the purposes of this question, I’m going to be talking about the kind of people who don’t exercise their brains at all and I think that’s what most of us refer to when we think of non readers.

I really can’t imagine not reading. Reading is my hobby. it’s what I do when I’m not doing anything and it’s a major part of me. It gets me thinking about incredible stuff and it keeps my mind sharp and my imagination in tact. It keeps me full of awe and wonder and keeps me asking questions about the world. It tears me away from reality and introduces me to people who matter. If a character is an idiot or wasting their life away, there’s usually some sort of point or moral or change, which is an incredible relief from the real world. In the real world, most people are idiots and wasting their lives away without any point at all and that bothers me so much. Reading is a hobby that enriches my life and keeps me optimistic about the world.

If people aren’t reading or getting into some sort of hobby that keeps them entertained and keeps their brain active and makes them ask questions, what are they doing? Seriously, what do people do all day or in the evenings or on the weekends? What do they talk about with their friends? What do they think about? I seriously have trouble grasping this concept sometimes. I helped a friend of a friend move into a new apartment one time and there wasn’t a single book or any kind of hobby material anywhere. There weren’t even any cookbooks. Or electronics manuals. Or even sports fan stuff. It was obvious that they had absolutely no hobbies. So what do they do? I guess I just find it disappointing and sad that the only thing enriching people’s lives are television, drama, work, and having children. I can’t imagine a life where I do go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch tv, and then go to bed. Surely people must have some interests beyond the routine of life. It doesn’t have to be reading, just any hobby at all!

I can’t stand when people scoff at the fact that I read. I can’t stand when people ask me why I read in that condescending “What do you do all day?” or “Where do you find the time?” kind of way. I hate when people with hobbies are unable to grasp why I read when it’s ultimately no different than being into any other hobby. I hate when people with no hobbies ask me because I’m wondering the same thing about them. I hate when I feel like I need to get defensive about it and when I become condescending myself. I hate when I’m telling someone about a book and I see that spark of genuine interest and I know that he or she will never ever pick it up because it’s words and not a television show or a movie and it saddens me so much that people would willfully take the easier route, the one that will eventually turn their brains into mush. I hate when people think book clubs are excuses for women to get together and gossip and when people think reading is a solitary hobby or when people scoff at reading, but can’t wait to discuss the last episode of their favorite show with their friends. It makes me feel so misunderstood and it bothers me that the very people I look down on for being content with never expanding their brains can have the power to make me feel inferior for my own curiosity.

I feel a kinship with other readers and other people who are curious about the world, who ask questions and really think. I am right at home with geeks and nerds of all kinds just because we all share a similar interest to learn, regardless of the specifics of what we are into.

This was a wonderful Booking Through Thursday question and I’m genuinely interested to see everyone’s answers. I don’t know that I fully answered the question, but I suppose I could go on for days about it.