Why do I like to read? It’s so important and so obvious that I’m afraid to answer, or attempt to. It’s like asking if or why I love my wife, or kids, or parents. The answer is an exuberant and resounding “yes and let me count the ways” and yet I hesitate to explain. I’m tired of making the case. Feels like so much screaming into the abyss.
It’s not a controversial claim: reading can make you a better person in many different ways.
Can. Dependent on a few things. Had a student that looked at me all indignant one day and said, “I’ve been reading for the last hour, do I look any smarter to you?” Point taken.
I have felt called to English classrooms not to prescribe specific books or ideas, just books with ideas, that start the great conversation. I love that: THE GREAT CONVERSATION. I think that’s what the introduction to the Harvard Classics calls Literature, if I’m remembering that right. I used to spend so much energy pitching it as such. “Imagine there was a conversation that started thousands of years ago…blah blah…and each preceding generation…. blah blah…”
I have ridden a donkey on a basketball court in a full gym at the high school in the mountains where I teach with the sign READ! in blue painter’s tape on my back. Just playing my role. I am the reader. I feel so tired of defending what to me seems so glaringly obvious.
I read for all the reasons people cite. I read to know, and understand, and experience. I read to become a better person, to escape, to be found, to search. I read because I am drawn to it like food. I read because I believe God speaks to me through books, and through people that write books, and even through writing books for people to read. Certain sentences change me. There are paragraphs that have changed the course of my life. I read because I was made to, and I read because I would be a fish abandoning water if I didn’t.
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