Why I read

There is a #whyiread hash/meme working its way through Twitter today. I tweeted, in brief:

I remember my mom telling me as a little kid that reading was a way to explore new worlds. Off I went! I’ve never looked back.

I thought I would expand on it a little here, even thought I’ve written of my love for reading many times before.

My parents encouraged reading from as far back as I can remember and for that I will be forever grateful. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of sitting on the maroon sofa (it was the 70s) in my parents living room, listening to my Dad read one of Dr. Seuss’s books to me. He read with expression and to this day, when I think of those lines in my head, it is his voice I hear, as opposed to my own.

As I grew up, my parents continued to put an emphasis on reading. I remember one holiday where I got a Macmillan Children’s Dictionary as a present. On another holiday, we got abridged versions of some of the classics. I remember flipping through and reading those books, which included, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Robin Hood, and Treasure Island.  As I said in my tweet, my Mom used to tell me that reading was a way of exploring new worlds.  I took that to heart. When I was still young, six or seven years old, I grew interested in astronomy and would check out The Nine Planets from the library over and over again, literally exploring new worlds for the first time.  That was my introduction to science and ultimately to science fiction.

Today, I read for two reasons. I read nonfiction because I love learning new things. I read fiction–and especially science fiction–because it is heaven to me. To call it a “guilty pleasure” would be to mischaracterized it: I don’t feel guilty about it at all. For a long time I maintained a pretty even balance between fiction and nonfiction–something that grew out of how I was allowed to checkout books from the library as a youngster. These days, however, I read whatever suits my mood. Sometimes there are long streaks of fiction and other times long streaks of nonfiction. It doesn’t matter. It is all delightful.

I read to the Little Man each night before he goes to bed, or on those other occasions when he brings me a book. I try to do it the way my Dad did when I was a kid, reading with expression, making it come alive, and improvising from time-to-time. It’s my turn to pay it forward and I hope that as a result, the Little Man learns to love reading as much as I have.


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