BTT: Why you read?

Suggested by Janet:
I’ve seen this quotation in several places lately. It’s from Sven Birkerts’ ‘The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age’:

“To read, when one does so of one’s own free will, is to make a volitional statement, to cast a vote; it is to posit an elsewhere and set off toward it. And like any traveling, reading is at once a movement and a comment of sorts about the place one has left. To open a book voluntarily is at some level to remark the insufficiency either of one’s life or one’s orientation toward it.”

To what extent does this describe you?

Honestly? I’m not sure I understand everything in the quote above. I had to look up volitional and posit 🙂

reading is at once a movement and a comment of sorts about the place one has left“. I understand this as reacting to the book from where you are at that moment in your life. Your experiences, your surroundings affects what you take from a book or how you relate to it. So in that sense yes, I agree with it.

To open a book voluntarily is at some level to remark the insufficiency either of one’s life or one’s orientation toward it.” I don’t agree with this. Just because I want to read, say YA, does not mean I miss that stage in my life. My orientation towards YA could be because of completely different reasons. But then again, it could be insufficiency in a total different way. I might feel like reading books set in colder regions just because I live in a hot place.

We humans need constant change, we like to know and experience things that are different than our own. At least that is my basis for reading other than entertainment of course.

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17 thoughts on “BTT: Why you read?

  1. Well, let’s not add too much baggage to the word ‘insufficient’ – perhaps it would make more sense or be more relatable to me and POSITIVE if I would say that I read to learn MORE, thus to ADD to my knowledge. To experience life through literature enhances my life not merely provides an escape. SO MANY REASONS to read! 🙂

  2. Haha I think everyone disagrees with the idea of escapism due to unfriendly vibes in their own life. It seems like the speaker of the quote had some issues to workout on his/her own and may be reflecting it on others.

  3. I think reading is an acknowledgment that the reader doesn’t know everything, that there are places, people, experiences beyond one’s own perspective that are worth trying to get to know through reading. That’s what he means by remarking the level of insufficiency in one’s own life.

  4. Hi Violet, I’m going to copy this quote directly from my blog: I read because…

    “Books give us pleasure not because they make us comfortable, though some good ones may, but because they entertain us, they make us laugh, they make us cry; they inform, persuade, disturb, convince, seduce us; they make us think, speculate, see – and we recognize what we see as true, not as the truth but as a truth in the writer’s fabulous construction that corresponds to what we have observed in ourselves, or others, or in the world at large, or can conceive of observing.” – William McPherson

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