Why We Read

Over tea this morning I came across an interesting article in the Sunday NY Times Week in Review section entitled “A Good Mystery: Why We Read” by Motoko Rich.

The article examines the current state of reading today and in interesting interviews with authors such as National Book Award winner Sherman Alexie explores how and why some people become life-long readers. 

I was particularly struck by 2 things in the story: the fact that reading is, ultimately, a personal, private activity (it certainly is for me, although I love a good discussion about books) and that often it is one remarkable book that comes to a person at a particular time in his/her life that grabs ahold and doesn’t let go.  For Alexie it was “Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day, a classic picture book. ‘It was the first time I looked at a book and saw a brown, black, beige character — a character who resembled me physically and resembled me spiritually, in all his gorgeous loneliness and splendid isolation,’ Mr. Alexie, a Spokane Indian who grew up on a reservation, told the audience.” For me it was the Little House books that I read in elementary school.  I loved the descriptions of pioneer life, simple pleasures, struggles to survive, and the love shared by Laura’s family. 

The opportunity we have, as booksellers, teachers, librarians, parents, family & friends, is to encourage the spark that leads to a passion for reading, by helping others to find that book, author, or topic that ignites curiosity, speaks in an authentic voice, or awakens new ideas.  I think that today there are more avenues with which to seize that opportunity and enjoy the chance to do so. 

  • Posted by Cori

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