Sunday, July 21, 2013

Why Do You Read? (Sequel to Why Do You Write?)

Not all of us write, but all of us read. Or should read. (Hands over my ears, singing NA-NA-NA-NA if you tell me you don't have time to read.)

Just a quick side rant on why you SHOULD read, and read a lot!

1) You get smarter. Yes indeedy, you do.
2) You write better. Yep, it's osmosis of a sort.
3) You relax.
4) You escape from the rat race.
5) You become enlightened on multiple plains.

Which brings me to YOU. Why do YOU read. You might not be a writer. Just think about being one of the millions out there, seeking a book to read. What draws you to reading?

I speak to many groups, from small book clubs, to library events, to bookstore signings, to writer conferences. Of course most (not all) of those people are avid readers, and you'd be surprised at their comments about what and why they read (or don't). Don't assume that everyone you see in this business is a serious reader. I've heard the following:

1) I don't read anything with murder in it.
2) I don't read anything with animals in it.
3) I only read positive books.
4) I only read nonfiction.
5) I only read biographies.
6) I read young adult, it's easier.
7) I only read series.
8) I love a good new author.
9) I read to kill time during my commute.
10) I read to go to sleep.
11) I read to escape the day. 
12) I read when I'm caught up at work.
13) I read in the summer when the kids are out of school.
14) I don't have time to read and write, too, so I rarely read.
15) I never buy books. I check them out at the library.
16) Who has time to read?

Why do you read? That usually drives what you read. (It often defines what you write.) You might not buy Dan Brown's complex mysteries if you only grab a chapter here and there while waiting in line at the bank. You might read cozy plots if on vacation at the beach. You might read romance on your e-reader so your husband doesn't know (love that one). You only read books that you want your children to be able to read. You only read mysteries because you love a challenge and guessing the end.

Bottom line, the world is filled with any type book you need to read, and no two readers are alike in their quests. So . . . WHY DO YOU READ? And if you are a writer, WHAT DID YOU JUST LEARN ABOUT HOW TO TARGET READERS?


Sioux Roslawski said...

I read to travel to different places and different eras. I've been to Afghanistan because of Khaled Hosseini. I've been a geisha because I read "Memoir of a Geisha." I've been a part of the French Revolution because of "Tale of Two Cities."

I read to laugh. Augusten Burroughs. Nora Ephron. Erma Bombeck (still makes me chuckle). I read because I can't stop. Leonard Pitts, Jr.'s "Freeman" and Joe Hill's "NOS4A2" kept me up for several nights until way too late...I read books written by writing "friends" like your novels, Hope, and Jean Ellen Whatley's "Off the Leash" because I've connected to them as people and writers, and I'm intrigued...and inevitably entertained and extremely satisfied.

Bookie said...

I read for information, relaxation, and for writing examples. But mostly, I read for breath! Books keep air in my lungs. When they becoming irritating or breath-stealing, I close the covers and recover until next time. Can't do that with relatives, neighbors, or work situations! :)

Karen said...

I read mostly for fun and to decompress from my day.

I also read to learn about specific topics I'm interested in, like running.

I drive to work now and miss my train commute into the city because I read so much on the train. I found that the 30 minutes reading on my way home made me a much more patient mom when I got home.

Hope Clark said...

I see all those reasons and we think about our readers when we write...when we promote? Do we see them on the train, in the car, in bed, trying to understand the core reason they read?