To Read or Not to Read by Susan Lute

In today’s busy world, where every hour in the day is taken up with the day job (if you have one away from home), family, social networking, marketing (if you’re a writer, published or not), there’s little enough time to write, much less time to really hunker down and enjoy a good read. I was listening to a conference CD the other day on the commute to the city for the day job and one of the speakers was John Charles (librarian – I didn’t catch from where, I’m sorry to say). John says, and I have to agree with him, “Reading is a necessity.”

How we’re reading might be changing, but I don’t think anyone who has a love of the written word will disagree with John. There are so many good reasons to read.

First, it’s a great escape. What else can you do that lets you explore the world at large, in such an intimate way, without leaving the comfort of your lazy-boy? You can watch a movie. But the level of detail is often hampered by the constraints of film (don’t get me wrong, I LOVE movies). Think about the places you can go. Metropolitan cities like New York, Paris, and London. Places you’ve never been to like Pompeii, Japan and Atlantis. Some destinations you would never see, like an off-world planet, or Regency England.

Second, reading is a great glimpse into the human condition: love, war, sex, relationships forged under some of the worst, and best, situations. Books are vignettes of peoples’ lives, stunning, sometimes unimaginable, always incredible.

You can learn a lot from reading fiction. I didn’t know a thing about Feng Shui until maybe four or five years ago, when I read about it in a story. After that I studied the art thoroughly. Reading expands your horizons.

You can be anyone you want to be when you’re reading. A New York detective, who always gets her man. An art restorer who falls deep for the Navy Seal who saves her. A ghost. A vampire who is the good guy, or girl. A shapeshifter who’s ancestors descended from the Maya, a private investigator who’s a wizard, a lost soul trying to win her, or his, way back into the grace of heaven. A prince, or a pauper, or the butler.

And reading can be the best history lesson. Authors are clever at doing their research, and then layering in the details that underlie their story. Historical romances are full of little tidbits you might not discover any other way. Even contemporaries. Readers expect, and get, accurate details. Think of Steampunk, how the minutest element informs the story. They are perfect depictions of what was, is, or could be, with a little twist unique to the genre.

So, at least for me anyway, John is right. Reading IS a necessity. How about you? What do you love about reading? And how do you find the time?


About Susan

Author, wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, dreamer.

Posted on October 25, 2011, in General and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. How many times do we hear of books bringing solace during times of hardship? Good points everyone 🙂


  2. I love to read because I love to see how other people make their lives work. I love to read because I need to be reminded that compassion and kindness will win over greed and fear. I love to read because I want to find my grit, books remind me that I can overcome.


  3. I’ve also been reading more through weekly trips to the library, which I haven’t done for years. This is refilling my well of words and also encouraging me to write. 😀


  4. It’s funny that you wrote this because lately, I’ve been making myself find time to read. I’ve been feeling the pain of withdrawal. I haven’t done a lot of reading partly because my contact prescription was off but now that I can see better (always a good thing wouldn’t you say?), the urge to read is stronger. And not just on my Kindle but holding a good old-fashioned paper book in my hands. As much as I love reading on a device, there is still nothing better, for me, than holding an actual book in my hand. I think that, for many of us, the need to read is etched in every neuron. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.


  5. John the librarian (ooooh, wouldn’t that be a clever character??) is absolutely correct! Reading is NECESSARY! It’s gotten me through some rough times, like sitting in an OHSU SICU (Surgery Intensive Care Unit) waiting room, while my brother fought for his life after a fatal head-on collision. Or when MY life was in the toilet, at least I had a book to show me that happy endings are possible, and being abused -physically or mentally- wasn’t the norm. I’m a realist, though, so I don’t (and didn’t even in my early 20’s) expect that a prince on a brilliant white horse would show up to save me. Probably wouldn’t have believed him anyway, LOL! But it was enough that someone envisioned a better life, so why couldn’t *I* have one?

    After I started writing, someone said that they DON’T read, for fear that they would plagiarize the author they were reading. “Wow, I thought … don’t want to do that!” So I stopped writing for a long time. And discovered that my words dried up. No, I wasn’t plagiarizing, but reading filled my well of creativity. I don’t read as much as I used to, with a busy life, kids, hubby, family farm & day job, there really isn’t enough time in the day.

    But when that busy life gets a little crazy, I always know that there’s a world filled with imperfect people, just waiting for me to bring it to life as I read.


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