Why do *you* read? (Split from SF thread...)

KB, Jenni, Wock, KH, rhacer, Katherine, antony, Amber, Margaret, jaysen et al. What is your primary reason for reading, [i]fiction,[/i]

My apologies for appearing to abandon you in t`other thread.
A happy New Year by the way!! :laughing:

McEwan came to fame as an acclaimed short story writer, if memory serves. I think his early works are the ones Keith is referring to. I havent read any of his work so I cant comment on his prowess as an author.

But! At the end of the day, taste, is an extremely personal thing, forged and tempered on the anvil of our personal experiences, is it not, and then honed by our individual intellectual, analytical and reasoning capabilities.

Appreciation of genre, is like the appreciation of beauty. It resides in the mind of the reader, or the eye of the beholder.

The reason I didnt return straight away to the other thread, was because, Im really intrigued by the apparent vehemence, inherent in your responses. If that vehemence isnt a figment of my imagination, and is real, then by definition tis personal. If thats the case, Im not sure I should be probing, at least not in open forum, without your prior consent.:slight_smile:

take care

No doubt you imagine a lot of strange things, Vic!

Anyway, I was joking about the other thread anyway, it didn’t really concern me it suddenly fell quiet :slight_smile:

I have no problem about probing on my tastes… I think most readers are quite happy to talk about books they like, and usually equally happy to discuss those they don’t! Likewise, I’m always happy to collect other people’s opinions of good books, because there are just too many to navigate my own way around them all.

I don’t think vehemence is necessarily the right word. The benefit of a bad book is that you can put it down and forget it… so any perceived vehemence was probably intensified by laziness and exaggeration in my replies. I think I used the word ‘hate’ initially, which prompted your follow up question. It’s hard to really hate books though, unless they can somehow do real damage to society; I tend to either love books, like books, or forget them (unless prompted to say why I don’t like them, in which case I seem to write long-winded posts laced with vehemence and aggression :laughing:).


PS - Yes, happy new year to you too.

Point taken.

Why would you assume I imagine lots of strange things?

My reason for asking the others why they read fiction, is because, your statement: “I don’t read them because I think they have more value than other books, they just happen to be books I have read and enjoyed.” seemed to sum up, very simply, the point of the reading process, `To read and enjoy."
Take care

Honestly? Originally it was to escape the reality that was my world as a child. Now I read because I find everything else just sucks. If I wanted to numb my brain I would just reach for the bottle, climb below decks and drink like a man. But I don’t want a numb brain. I want to feel, see, experience things that are beyond me. Beyond my wildest dreams.

While I was not “abused” an any way I was “hoarded” and kept away from “bad influences.” I was provided access to a library by illiterate people who couldn’t even conceptualize imaginative visualization. I eventually discovered that I could get any book I wanted and in my mind I could see all the “bad influences” in more detail than I could if I lived in the same house with them. I discovered that thinking is more powerful than any thing else man has.

Fiction is not “new” to me, but until recently it was just entertainment, a quick distraction from work and family. Non-fiction (remember the reference to Darwin?) was my education. I built a career from a book checked out of the library. But when I had to explain some philosophical points to the little boy I discovered that FICTION was the device that really brought meaning and understanding to difficult concepts.

That was 3 years ago. I have been studying the works and authors that I believe influenced my philo/theo-sophical view of life. I hope to figure out WHY they held the sway with me that they did. I recognize the influence of Tolkien, Lewis, London, Twain/Clemens, Melville, Dickens, Doyle and many other authors in my speech and writing. If I can determine why they influenced me then I may be able to pass something of value on to my children as they seem to enjoy the same authors that I do (we are currently in a fight for who gets next dibs on LOTR).

So why do I read fiction? I read so that I can learn to encapsulate what I know about life into a story that is interesting enough that someday, in someplace, some person will stop and go “hmm… I never thought of it like that before does that mean …?”

That and who doesn’t like a plot, a good latte or dharjeeling, a shot of rum (or seven), a fire, and a dog/cat on a cold night?


While not directed at me … Because it is difficult to assume that you imaging lots of ordinary things while under your table :stuck_out_tongue:

I think there is one other point to reading which may or may not be mutually exclusive: To learn.

I may enjoy Plato, but I read it to learn more than I read it for enjoyment. I am just lucky that I really enjoy learning.


I’m usually reading six or seven books at once, generally because there are at any given moment in time, six or seven different reasons why I read fiction. :slight_smile:

Hmm, but perhaps the types that are most enjoyable to me are books which give me reason to write! It usually takes me a very long time to read books like that, because a few paragraphs will set me off on some idea and it will be a week or two before I pick it up again. But these are the books I treasure, even if I never even finish them, because they have become a part of my personality.

I view reading as a way to augment the mind, learning if you will, though in a way which circumvents the normal methods of “learning.” The mere act of casting your imagination into a universe that partially controlled by narrative and largely uncontrolled in the nuance you provide, alters who you are. Because the reading of a book can sometimes be an epic affair, this has an impact that few other narrative forms can match. A play is over in a night; a movie in a few hours; but a book lives (it could be argued, nearly literally) in your whole brain for weeks at a time, maybe even months—and then a good book lingers many years after.

Speculative fiction, if you will, seems to have an interesting affect on the mind. It speaks to our need for myth and awe in a world that often provides very little. You could call that escapism, but I think it is more integrated than that. This statement ignores that reading is part of life, not in absence of, or in replacement of. Written word seems to nurture areas of the mind which ordinarily lay fallow.

What is this vehemence you speak of, anyway? The Star Trek section in the lavatories?

I think Jaysen provided a better answer than I ever could!


I read fiction to be entertained. Pure and simple. If you’re not entertaining me, then I likely won’t read you. I have a friend who recently had his first novel published. He writes beautifully, but his book does not entertain me. I’m about half way through, and not sure I’ll be able to finish it.


Like rhacer, I read fiction to be entertained. That doesn’t mean it has to be escapist fantasy, but it has to be compelling, interesting and exciting. If it features ideas that make me think about life and the world, all the better; but if that’s all it has, I may as well be reading Sartre, or a non-fiction (of which I read plenty, for research).

This is one of the reasons (besides working in the field) that I’ve started to read a lot of modern YA novels. They make no apologies for being exciting, dramatic stories with very little chaff.

From a wider perspective - and I expect this applies to many people here, especially the professional authors - I read because I always have. I’m from a very average working-class background, and my parents always wanted something better for me (my father, a labourer all his life, said he’d disown me if I ended up working in a factory!). They saw reading as a way into that better life, and so always encouraged me to read - instilling in me the idea that reading was something intelligent people did as a matter of course.

It’s hard to overestimate how grateful I am to them for this line of thinking :slight_smile:

I just finished this. I mentioned earlier I was reading Halo books at my son’s request (I’m currently part way through The Flood). I found this The Fall of Reach to be much better than I expected, a very fun and fairly quick read. The Master Chief is, indeed, a wonderful protagonist, especially given the back story presented in this book. On the other hand, I don’t believe it was particularly well written, and I really wished that Nylund had investigated the ethics of the Spartan project a little more deeply than he did.

I recommend the book as a fun read, and a great story, but not necesarily an example of great writing.

I’ve always wanted to create, to be an artist. In my early years that itch was scratched through writing software (I’m in the software is art not science camp). However, as I got older I was finding myself wanting to do more, to tell stories that others would find compelling, a couple of years ago I started writing some erotica. The few people who I actually allowed to read it said “This is good, I want more, and why aren’t you writing things for publication?” So last summer I set myself the goal of writing a mainstream novel.

My writing is hampered by two things, fairly severe ADD, and a pernicious desire to edit before I have finished the story. I just got past a month long bout of writer’s block. Allowing my ADD to have some control and still write, I keep two or three different manuscripts open in Scriv at all times now, so if I get distracted from one story line I can move to another.

[Keith, Scriv has helped me dramatically in this area by allowing me to write several sections of one story at once and still keep things straight! Thank you!]

On the editing front, I just repeat the mantra every time I get the urge to go back and “clean up a bit” Write first edit later. When that doesn’t seem to help I have a couple of close friends who will get the most recent draft and then will tell me to keep writing and forget the editing for the moment.

I’ve split the SF thread into several different threads seeing as it was getting long and very eclectic. I hope no one takes offence at this - the thread was interesting and I went just as off-topic as everyone else (hmm, I may have even started the off-topicness :blush: ) so please don’t take this as over-zealous moderating. I’m just trying to tidy it up so that newcomers can find relevant information in the appropriate forums, and also make it so that we can all continue the various strands of discussion without having to worry about going off-topic.

If you feel I’ve placed any of your posts in the wrong topic (it was difficult deciding what should go where so I just went for a best-fit), let me know and I’ll move it to where you think it belongs.

All the best,

Thank you all for your enlightening responses to my question. I appreciate you taking the trouble. Considerably more involved than I had anticipated. Then again, that`s life, is it not?:?

Take care

I think it’s just symptomatic of avid readers that they like to talk about why they read as much as what they read. I’ve seen the question asked in several different situations, and the response from the avid readers is always long-winded :smiley:


Long winded:? a bit. But! What else would you expect from a bunch of writers?:wink: But theyve articulated (with far more eloquence, than I could ever muster), the probable cause, of me standing with two hands pressed against the walls of this place,( a bit like like druid hugging a tree, I suppose), having imbibed, moderately, of the the [i]Ebony Ambrosia [/i],( Guiness), in the Sawers Arms, no more than four metres away from the John Rylands Library, on Deansgate Manchester.

Based on the facts that the cars are on the wrong side of the road, the steering wheels seem to be on the wrong side of the cars, and your questionable say so, I am led to believe that the building pictured is a LIBRARY. Is this so?

.continued from above: under the withering gaze of a pair of retired Irish pedagogues, muttering in unison, “What the fuck are ydoin?” I tried to explain to them that: Rylands and the treasures it contained, was as enchanting and enticing to me, as Hogwarts must be to the Potter gang.

However, the preponderance of scantily clad females, twenty and thirty years their junior, strutting there stuff, along Deansgate, proved too much for the pedagogues. As a consequence their attention wandered, and I kept my own council.

Suffice to say, Antony, the responses, only served to emphasise the complexity of our relationship with language and its many modes of articulation.

Take care

PS Jaysen, yes tis just so :wink:

They say that we should not judge a book by its cover, a man by his skin, nor a building by its decor. But if we had libraries here that looked like that we might at least capture the attention of the masses. We like to bury our collections in strip malls, windowless warehouses and edifices so boring that a plain sheet of paper looks like a wondrous piece of art.

I need to relocate.

You mean like this?
It’s really pretty inside, too. It even has a lovely room specially set aside for scriveners. Of course, you’d have to move. I live about three blocks away from it and visit weekly, in downtown [place whose name must not be mentioned more than once per day, for fear of e-vic-k-ction, and Amber already did.

This forum is turning into an advertisement on the behalf of the Portland tourist board. :smiley: Does anyone in Portland actually own Scrivener, or are they just very clever viral marketers?

A “pretty” building is not quit the thing. If I were reading the fables of Arthur, or King Lear or any other of the other medieval to modern “king of the castle” style works or even most fantasy novels and needed reference point, you could simply stand across the street from vic-k’s point of detainment. With a decent imagination you could virtually see the masses or the nobility departing for what every quest was at hand.

This assume that you could ignore the aforementioned detainee as the local enforcement officer does his duty.

And I do acknowledge that there are areas of this country where decent architecture can be seen (Was just in NYC so I know it exists) but the majority of the people have to rely on the “illustrations” provided by he author. Guess I just think that most of America doesn’t have enough imagination to draw a mental image unless the TV shows them what to draw.

Darn, here I go again taking a thread off course. Wonder how many times KB will split things before he limits me to one post per day.