[UPDATE: #WhyIRead is trending on Twitter, and here’s a summary from Galleycat. And news of bigger developments forthcoming next week.]
In the age of mass entertainment, books don’t seem very special. Even in their digital form, they don’t seem to do very much, and the gadgets designed to hold them are, as far as gadgets go, unimpressive. Books are quiet objects: they don’t flash and whirr. They are rarely captivating to the eye—black lines on white paper—nor pleasant to the ear. They are static, unassuming, silent, subtle. They are often too expensive for those who don’t care about them as amusement, and not expensive enough for those who might care about them as acquisitions. Books are, simply by being themselves, in their quiet assurance and unintrusiveness, anti-entertainment. They ask as much from us as they give. They give us nothing if we don’t start the relationship. And even then they don’t give away their secrets or pleasures easily. Satisfaction may come from a book, but it has to be fought for. You have to earn it.
So why do so many people, when offered so many options, still choose the book as their preferred form of amusement, engagement, education, relaxation, advancement? When knowledge is everywhere, fluttering by us in the breeze, waiting to be captured in our handheld techno-nets, why would we buy a book? When stories are everywhere, shared by online citizens across time and space, why would we isolate ourselves within a book? When distraction is everywhere, waiting for us in our inboxes and in our text messages, piling up in our RSS feeds and bookmark folders, why would we let ourselves be led away from work and family and life…by a book?
I suspect we all have our answers. We read in order to grow our imaginative faculties. We read to immerse ourselves in other worlds and other minds. We read to learn how to change ourselves, or those around us. We read to plug a gap in our knowledge. We read to escape. We read to wonder. We read to soothe. Whatever the reason, whatever the prompt, we still end up with a book in our hands. Somehow, after all this time, in the midst of the buzz and blur of over-mediation, the book remains for us a solution, an antidote, a balm.
Today, you’re invited to share why you read. Log on to Twitter, toss down the hash tag #whyIread, and share what continues to draw you to books. We all have our reasons, and we’d love to hear yours.
I’ll start. Here’s #whyIread:
#WhyIread Novels open up a space for characters to transform; by witnessing that transformation, I am able to change, too.
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