Thursday, August 25, 2011

Why do we... books?

So I've been wondering this for the last few days. Why do people read books? What do we get out of it? They've been around for a while, so there must be some reason. And so I've come up with a few.

  • For enjoyment. Or entertainment. Just like why we watch movies--a well-written book is entertaining. Some are exciting, others are interesting, and still others relate to us in new ways.
  • To fill a void. I thought this was pretty interesting. Do we read books (or watch movies) to compensate for something that we're missing in life? Do we read thrillers because our lives are boring? Love stories because we're lonely? Fantasy because we were all just a little disappointed that we didn't receive a Hogwarts letter on our 11th birthday?
  • To learn something new. While this first makes you think of non-fiction--which can actually be enjoyable--I think fiction also falls into this category. You don't have to learn information to learn. Books can teach us morals, values, important life lessons. They comment on the world around us, even if they're not set in our exact world.
  • To lose ourselves in a different world. I personally do this a lot. Whenever I want to get away, I don't have to jump on a plane--I can just crack open a good book and go somewhere new for a few hours. There's nothing wrong with a little escapism :)
...write books?

There are probably many different reasons for people to read books, but why do people write them? The reader clearly gets something from the book--otherwise they wouldn't pay for it. But what does the writer get out of it? Why do writers write?

  • To express ourselves. Most books (and plays, movies, etc.) have some kind of moral or lesson that the author is trying to get across to the reader. Whether the author is trying to deal with their own issues or comment on society, they can do so through literature.
  • We have a story that has to be told. There are some stories that you can't not write. Whether it's the voices in your head that only shut up when you start writing about them or it's an idea that's been driving you crazy, sometimes writing is the solution.
  • We want to share knowledge. This one's pretty self-explainitory. Since we do have non-fiction books, it's clear that some writers do actually enjoy simply sharing knowledge with others.
  • Because it's fun. I know it doesn't seem like it all the time, but--at least to me--writing actually is fun. It drives me crazy sometimes, but I honestly don't know what I would do without it. And I think a lot of writers feel that way. They wouldn't do it if they didn't love it.

Why do you read or write books? Answer in the comments.


  1. Books are darn fun. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it (and applicable to both writing and reading).

    However, boring books are not fun and get quickly tossed.

  2. For me it's an escape, both reading and writing. Life is hard, whether working or taking care of kids--or in my case both. Sometimes, it's nice to get away and not be Mom or Wife or Teacher for awhile.

  3. Like you said it's and escape but I have found that I tend to write more when I have nothing to read. For me they're equally as fun!