Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Musing Mondays

There's a new bookish meme in town. Should Be Reading's Musing Mondays aims to encourage readers to talk about their reading. How could that be bad?

Today's prompt is:

Every once in awhile, especially when I hear a lot about book challenges and number of books read, I want to pull back and ask people why they read. Is reading inherently better than watching movies or making jewelry or cooking fancy cakes or cultivating roses? Is reading ever negative and, if so, when? So why do we read?

I think it'd be sad if my reading ever boiled down to how many pages I can get through in a day. I suppose that's a danger of challenges and such but, as I've only just started doing them, I've not found it a problem thus far.

Why do I read? It's only partly the content of the books. I love the process of reading. I love running my eyes over the words and seeing them come to life as I learn their meanings. I find it calming and magical and consuming. I can, quite literally, get lost in a book. A lot of my reading is distraction. I have mental health problems which include anxiety and reading is the best way I've found to force my mind to switch off the nasty feelings and tune in to something more pleasant. For me, reading is better than watching a film or knitting or going for a walk. It suits the way my mind works. Is it inherently better for everyone? I'm inclined to say it is. Surely it's better to be engaging your mind with a good book than vegging out in front of the TV? I feel strongly that reading is superior to movies, TV and popular music. It is equal to other hobbies that engage the mind. I think my objection to TV etc is that it's so passive. All we need to do is clutch the remote and gaze at the pretty pictures. Which is fine for a little while but not four hours a night (or whatever the average is).

Is reading ever negative? I don't think so ... I'm struggling to find a way that it is. There are plenty of pop-corn books out there (I'm thinking cheap romances and sci-fi) but even these require us to engage our minds to some extent.

I think my beliefs about reading are very strongly influenced by my own experiences of poor mental health. Because it is beneficial for *me* to read a lot, I tend to assume that it is likewise beneficial for everyone. And, really, why would it not be?


MizB said...

Thanks for playing along in this edition of "Musing Mondays", Laura! :)

Bluestocking said...

I started reading more than I did before because I had a hard time sleeping in law school. I think it was the stress and anxiety. It made it impossible fir me to unwind. Once I started reading before bed I'd fall asleep within 30-40minutes rather than 3hours.