Why do you read?

Discussion in 'Fantasy / Horror' started by Radthorne, Jan 26, 2005.

  1. Radthorne

    Radthorne Keeper of the Hikari

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    Not just genre stuff, but any fiction? What is it about fiction reading that draws you to do it, as opposed to watching TV, building something, taking a walk, or any of the other 101 things you might do with your discretionary time?

    And while we're on the subject, how much time per week do you spend reading fiction?
     
  2. Archren

    Archren BookWyrm

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    I guess I read because I'm addicted, frankly. Any time I have a spare moment, I read a page or two of whatever I have to hand. I always have a book with me. It'd be hard to count up the time I spend reading, probably on the order of 15-20 hours per week.

    One thing I love about books, fiction & nonfiction both is that they anchor my thoughts. When I'm not reading, my brain tends to chase its tail round & round in circles, sometimes frustratingly. When I'm reading I can usually focus well enough that my brain settles down to just the one thing I'm doing. That's very relaxing. TV doesn't hold my attention that way at all.

    I don't discriminate too much between reading fiction or reading nonfiction. I enjoy both and switch between them frequently, depending on my mood.
     
  3. JRMurdock

    JRMurdock Where have I been?

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    Watching TV puts my brain in neutral. Reading, writing (and this forum) put my brain into overdrive. I've not only been reading a lot, I've also got a lot of audio books to pound through. So I'm booking about 10 hours a week during my commute with audio books. Makes the drive go by so much faster.

    I've been drawn to fiction, particularly Fantasy, since I was a kid. I guess I was one of the few that made the leap from children's fantasy, to YA fantasy, to sci-fi and epic fantasy. It wasn't much of a stretch for me. I was reading during class while others were complaining they had to read.
     
  4. Radthorne

    Radthorne Keeper of the Hikari

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    I'm a bit of a book junkie (even though most of it is non-fiction). I have bookcases overflowing all over the house. When I'm writing (which is most of the time these days), I find I'm not reading fiction - it's too distracting. I need to focus on my world and not play in somebody else's. Which is sad, because I love to read all of it! So when I'm between books I try to cram in as much reading as I can. When I finished Sabakushi last November I started Robin Hobb's Liveship series, and am almost done with the third book. Good thing too, as I've already started work on my next book and find myself torn between writing and wanting to use that time to read instead...
     
  5. juzzza

    juzzza Loveable Rogue

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    It's just another form of entertainment and escape for me, and as I have a low attention span, I....















    ... Sorry, got distracted. Yea I read about 14-20 hours a week.
     
  6. alison

    alison Books of Pellinor

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    That's a hard question to ask, Rad. It's kind of like asking, why do you breathe?

    I think I read for all sorts of reasons, and what I read depends on what reason is paramount at any particular moment. Pleasure is at the top of the list, but what that means is pretty complex - I mean, I'd say I derived a lot pleasure from Kafka's Metamorphosis, when I read it when I was around 15, but it traumatised me so deeply I didn't touch Kafka again for another decade... I read to find things out (I read a lot of non fiction, especially history and criticism), to be intellectually stimulated, to be aesthetically challenged and excited, for fun, and sometimes good old escapism and wish fulfilment (that's a major reason I read Jane Austen - yes, I love Colin Firth doing the wet shirt thing...)

    I've no idea how much time I spend a week, it probably varies wildly. But I probably read a book or two a week.
     
  7. Radthorne

    Radthorne Keeper of the Hikari

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    A book or two a week! Prodigious... Although I suppose one reason I don't get that many read is that I have too many going at once (usually only one fiction title, but maybe half a dozen non-fiction titles competing for space on the coffee table...)
     
  8. Rocket Sheep

    Rocket Sheep I AM too a mod! Staff Member

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    I read two novels a month. One for review and one for myself. Oh yeah, and one to the kids... I forgot until Holbrook said. Right now it is HHGG x 4. They're warped kids... don't ask me how they got that way... must be the books they read.

    I don't actually like reviewing but free books are hard to turn down.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2005
  9. Susan Boulton

    Susan Boulton Edited for submission

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    Result of being an only child. When my mother dragged me in from play I had no brothers or sisters to drive me mad and wreck the house with, so I read ;)

    In my teenage years/early twenties it became a habit, others would buy LP's(CD's to younger folk) I would buy books. I was reading three a week.

    When my children were small I limited myself to buying one book every other month. Often did not get to read them for ages as I spent a lot of time reading other sorts of books to my children.

    Now I read when I can. If I am in hosptial I can read a book a day in-between the bed baths and the dozing. If life is sort of normal it can take me a couple of weeks. I don't have that much spare time and most evenings I am too tired to do more than crash when I have finished my housework type jobs (about 9.00pm)

    Reading that's effort, you need to have the brain working...;)
     
  10. kahnovitch

    kahnovitch Kiss my axe!

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    Ditto.
    Plus when I was a lad, we didn't have playstations, PC, DVDs, CD's, internet etc.
    Kids had to use their imagination more, we "made belief" and played games using nothing more that our minds to construct our playgrounds.

    The love of reading came for me long before I could read (i.e. bed-time stories etc)

    Reading is looking through a window into another world, constructed by the mind of the writer.

    It's a form of escapism, but also expansion of the reader's mind (particularly at an early age), as he/she will try to reconstruct what the writer saw when the story was written.
     
  11. juzzza

    juzzza Loveable Rogue

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    ...and translated by the reader. I love that about books. No game or movie can compare with that. I just hope books don't die out as consoles take over the world.
     
  12. Radthorne

    Radthorne Keeper of the Hikari

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    Or, depending on how descriptively the writer has constructed the tale, with what the reader sees. I am always amazed at how much detail each individual reader adds to what's on the page, well beyond what I put there. The power of "white space" to evoke people's own imaginations as they read is quite intriguing.
     
  13. Hereford Eye

    Hereford Eye Just Another Philistine

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    At least an hour an day gets me through almost a book a week. When I was younger I was doing two books a week but I've slowed down a lot in the last few years.
    Wish I had kept everything I ever read. Would like to see the library that would make. The rough math says it ought to contain over 5000 books.
    But why do I read? Curiosity. Insatiable curiosity. I blame it on Asimov. In an interview - or maybe one of his intros - he talked about how much he read and why and I figured I could keep up with a biologist without any problem. I think he cheated, though. Think I read that he learned to speed read and I never did.
     
  14. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

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    I'm a story addict; I don't care what kind of story or in what form -- t.v., movies, plays, songs, memoirs, art, etc., if it's a story, I'm interested. But that does not explain why I read so much, in addition to my time on the computer, t.v. watching and videos. Nor does the explanation that I started reading early, my mom read me novels at bedtime, and I was a bookworm child who could escape from annoying adults by doing something they found acceptable, really explain it.

    For me, written fiction has dimensions that other forms of story-telling do not. Written fiction can explore the inside of a character's mind thoroughly and on many levels. Written fiction can create imagery -- not just an image but abstract concepts turned into images and patterns. It can explore the workings of a kitchen sink, the symbolism of scattered drops of tea, the exact moment someone's heart breaks and the exact method by which it breaks. Written fiction can be visceral, because I take the author's description of action and recreate that action inside my own head, and it can also be completely intellectual or philosophical. It can offer stories that have taste, scent and feel, not just sight and sound. It requires my attention, interaction and imagination in ways that other forms of storytelling do not. It has no limits and no fear of exploration.

    Reading fiction is not for me better than watching a movie or t.v. show or seeing a work of art, but it is necessary. Clearly reading fiction stimulates parts of my brain that like that sort of thing. And it does it enough and to enough other people that we as a society value it highly, even though only a small part of the population actually reads fiction and an even smaller group reads a lot of it regularly.

    As for why that lead me into book publishing, my only explanation was that I was stupid. Or in need of a really big fix. Now, it's too late for me. But the reading glasses are coming soon. :)
     
  15. butterfly

    butterfly Book-addict

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    I agree with KatG, its about the stories, the utter curiousity in what somebody is doing, how they are doing it and why?. It doesn't matter whether it is on tv, radio or a book.
    However, I am a bookaholic and I tend to read fiction, rather than non-fiction. On average I read about three books a week at the moment. (If I am not working then it is more.) I just love that my mind can take someone elses story and throw up a wealth of visualisations and interpretations. Its like shining light through a prism. Its fascinating and satisfying in ways that tv cannot reach.
     
  16. Gary Wassner

    Gary Wassner GemQuest

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    When I read, it's almost always fiction. But I must admit that I have so little time to read these days. I have been writing for six years straight without more than a six or seen week break between books. During those breaks, I gather up every book I can think of and I read non-stop. The problem I now have when I read anything remotely similar to what I write, is that I find it difficult to read uncritically. I notice technique and style all the time, but so consciously now that it interferes with the enjoyment of the narrative for me. I can read things that are totally unrelated to fantasy, but even then I find that I read critically still, instead of for the enjoyment and relaxation that it always used to afford me.

    Reading was my joy. Reading fiction was like taking a vacation every time I opened the cover. Now I think I need to go back to philosophical texts and more technical works until I can learn once again to read for the enjoyment of it.
     
  17. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

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    It's temporary, Gary. You've just learned to be a magician, is all. If you think about a fiction writer as a magician, then as a reader, you enjoy the show, watch the tricks and wonder, how does he do that. But as a writer, you know what the magician is doing, you can see behind the curtain as to how the trick was done, and it does take the magic out of the thing a bit. But, what you lose in wonder, you gain as you go in admiration for a well-done illusion -- you see the true, full beauty of it. Eventually, you may find you appreciate others' works of fiction more than you did before, even the ones you think are not that well done.
     
  18. Gary Wassner

    Gary Wassner GemQuest

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    Interesting take on it. I actually have been quite depressed about this problem until now. I certainly hope you are correct, and I truly look forward to adopting that perspective with the next book I read. BTW, the next book is Scott's TDTCB as soon as he sends it to me!
     
  19. Radthorne

    Radthorne Keeper of the Hikari

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    I found, like Gary, that once I started writing, my fiction reading really tapered off. As Kat has said, I can see some of the tricks now. When they're done really well, I either don't notice them at all (highest praise) or I admire the skill with which they're done. When they're done badly, it takes me out of the story and then it's not such a fun read anymore. Even with some really good authors, I can occasionally find portions of the books where I can tell, "A-ha! She got stuck here, and had to do this in order to make it all work." But if the rest of the book is good, those bits are easy to get past.

    And I sure hope I remember them when I get stuck! And either use them or find even better ways to un-stick myself.
     
  20. HellCold

    HellCold The Lost Prince

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    Critical Reading

    I hate this sort of critical reading, it kills the reading experience completely, and that is no fun at all when reading fiction. Letting the author drive you into their world and tell you their story is impossible when your brain gets systematized to criticizing and analyzing what you read. It can make you an excellent critic, but excellent critics have no pleasure reading, unless the book forces them to gape in wonder. Maybe you need a book of that sort, or a long break from reading until you "drop your guard"

    And by the way, I read because it's the second best thing in the world!