Betrayed by C.S. Lewis OR Why We Read

September 7, 2013

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When I first started Book Dumpling in May, I received a lovely email from a former babysitter named Ilana:

She wrote to me about how – when I was four – I used to categorize books by my bedside in little piles indicative of how much I liked them.

In response to this anecdote:

‘That is the nerdiest story I’ve ever heard,’ said one friend.

‘That is the cutest story I’ve ever heard,’ said another.

‘That is the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard,’ said another.

And on and on the responses continue since, as people, we tend to have differing opinions and reactions to just about everything. Except Breaking Bad.

In the same way – our reasons for reading vary widely.

My favourite part of the ‘reader questionnaire’ involves the answers to the question of ‘what motivates me to read.’

The top three reasons may be boiled down to: relaxation, escape and learning.

Why do I read?

As a little girl, when I received my first copy of C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, I would glance up at the armoire in my room every few chapters for just a moment.

I have been reading before bed since I can remember, thanks to my parents (and to Ferdinand the Bull) – but the real treat for me came (still does) when I was allowed to lie in bed and read on a weekend morning. The ultimate luxury.

One Saturday, I couldn’t help but get out of bed and see what this was all about. Narnia, that is.

I opened the wardrobe, moved the clothes aside and – despite recognizing the penchant for insanity this displayed – pushed against the back of the wardrobe to test and see if there was, in fact, a world that existed beyond it.

When the back didn’t give, I experienced a slight moment of intense disappointment and climbed back into bed to immerse myself in the ‘literary’ wardrobe as though nothing had happened. Kind of like when I trip on the sidewalk when I’m alone and pretend it’s really funny and that I’m cool with it despite deep feelings of humiliation.

Reading does that.

It allows our imagination to take off.

It makes us think.

It helps us learn.

It’s relaxing. It can be funny and wild and eye opening.

To see the world through stories – real or imagined – is a privilege.

Some cool reasons people have included in their motivations to read include:

The excitement of a great battle. The sadness of a drama. The tension of a mystery. The visualization of the setting, a castle with royalty on large satin thrones and gleaming knights (from a Grade 5 boy).

Nothing other than wanting to catch up for all the years when I did not read.

To pick up girls.

Topic of Conversation – it’s great to discuss books with friends.

My motivation is that I know I’ll be very relaxed while reading. As a mom of 2 young boys, I need that down time after they’re asleep.

It makes me think and creates an intimate view of someone else’s view of the world. Some authors have the power to put into words thoughts that I’ve had but was never able to express.

For spiritual inspiration.

To become a worldly, intellectual, and well-rounded human being.

I like the idea of continuing to expand my knowledge base even as an adult.

I live to read. I read every single day. I read more than any person I know. My job depends on it, but so does my sanity.

The pleasure, the virtual travel, the escape, the beauty of language, the creative imagination, eloquence. The private experience, the shared experience, the potential to lend a book out…

It gives me life – I have been an avid reader for most of my life

To get in touch with a deeper part of myself (my soul?), a place not easily reached in any other way except during extraordinary or extreme life events. If I read a well-written book, the experience should be akin to my having lived what it is that I have read. Sometimes I cannot remember if I have read something, or if I have dreamt it. If I have read a great book, it will remain with me for the rest of my life.

We all have our reasons and I will continue to track these for future blog posts.

And if anyone did have better luck with his or her own wardrobe – please don’t keep it to yourself. That’s just not right.


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