Why Do You Read?

Wednesday 10 October 2012

I'm a reader.

I always have been.  In fact, I can't think of a time where I didn't have a book on the go.  Perhaps that's why majoring in English was never a question.

I'll admit, I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to literature.  While I understand the desire to escape to an easy-read from the grocery store paperback selection where the author's name is bigger than the actual title of the book, I don't often do it.  I like good writing - writing that swirls around in my head creating the most vivid of pictures; writing that makes me think long after I've finished the book; writing that makes me question life, the world & myself.

While I do occasionally enjoy a feel-good book, I'm often most drawn to those a little darker.  My husband thinks it's a little morbid but I think it's realistic.  I was lucky enough to grow up in a lovely but uneventful and completely normal childhood where I didn't have to face a lot of the much more difficult circumstances people live through all over the world.  I'm constantly trying to understand humanity and I think to understand it, I have to look at all aspects of the world which includes those that are less pleasant.

I love books about other cultures, I love historical fiction but most of all I just love good writing.  I've compiled a list of some books that have resonated with me - ones that still have me thinking about them months or even years after first picking them up.

The Glass Castle {Jeanette Walls}
A Long Way Gone {Ishmael Beah)
Push {Sapphire}
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn {Betty Smith}
Sarah's Key (Tatiana de Rosnay}
Behind The Beautiful Forevers {Katherine Boo}
Beyond the Sky and the Earth {Jamie Zeppa}
Tisha {Robert Specht & Anne Purdy}
The Kite Runner {Khaled Hosseini}
A Thousand Splendid Suns {Khaled Hosseini}
Room {Emma Donoghue}
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time {Mark Haddon}
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas {John Boyne}
The Giver {Lois Lawry}
The Five People You Meet in Heaven {Mitch Albom}
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society {Marie Ann Schaffer & Annie Barrows}
In the Garden of Beasts {Erik Larson}
Harry Potter - all of them {J.K. Rowling}
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks {Rebecca Skloot}

While this list certainly isn't extensive, (it would go on for days if it was) they are books that pop into my head on random occasions; books that have taught me something.  They've inspired travel or further research.

I read to be inspired.  I read to learn & grow.

Why and what do you read?

Any must-reads to pass along?


  1. Harry Potter, The Giver, and The Kite Runner are all on my favorite books list. I'll have to check out some of the others. I do like feel good books and YA books, especially because I worked in the teen section of a library this summer. It may be too young, but have you read The Perks of Being a Wallflower? Thoughts?

  2. Lately I seem to be going for the easy reads. I feel like I don't get into the more difficult ones right away and then life gets busy and I don't end up reading it. The Giver is one of my favourites though, I just read it for probably the 10th time. Even though the Hunger Games was an easy read, it definitely made you think. And I love mystery books by Mary Higgins Clark and Lisa Gardner. Ahh I could talk about books for days.

  3. I read to get lost, to let go, to learn and to be challenged. For me it's about finding a book that resonates and is so good I need to read deep into the night and wake up itching to get at again in the morning.

    I like your list and will have to get my hands on some of them. I'm a fan of darker books that push at the edges of my mind though I also enjoy lighter fare that just lets me shut off. Milan Kundera, Rushdie, Zadie Smith, Dave Eggers, Bret Easton Ellis, Haruki Murakami, Margaret Atwood and Kurt Vonnegut just some of my fiction favourites. Oh...and I loved Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy *blushes*.

  4. I am drawn to books that stir my imagination or teach me something about a world I can't easily access. The darker stories also resonate longer with me. Have you read The Elegance of the Hedgehog? Definitely a book for readers. On the historical fiction side, I would highly recommend Elizabeth I by Margaret George. And I'll definitely be adding a few books from your list to mine.

  5. @smallsight - Funny that you mention The Elegance of the Hedgehog - I just added it to my To-Read list! I think I proposed it awhile back for my book club but it wasn't chosen and I forgot about it!

    @JoAnna - I've been meaning to try Haruki Murakami. What should I start with?

  6. I think we have very similar tastes in reading material. I have read and love so so many of those books =)

  7. why-usually a bit of escapism. sometimes just to end my day...so i don't have music/tv etc sounds. your list is interesting-love some of your choices

  8. What a great list of reads. I loved Sarah's Key and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. Both are books that reasonated with me as well... especially Sarah's Key. I actually did a review on it a couple months back. Thanks for sharing your list.. always great to have recommendations. I am currently reading "Committed" by Elizabeth Gilbert and it's an interesting read.

  9. Love this post!!! I am the biggest book nerd ever, my pinterest and my blog show it (I have a page for just books) Sarah's Key was one of the best I have ever read, I refuse to see the movie! Kite Runner and a Thousand Splendid Suns were both amazing and I am OBSESSED with Harry Potter. And Room, I honestly don't think I have ever read a book so fast in my life!!! What an amazing story and I loved that she told it from a childs point of view. I am going to be looking into the other books you Posted :)

  10. Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

  11. I love to read. My life would be empty without books. As a kid my mum always said that I ate letters LOL i still need to have a book with me during lunch or breakfast when I'm alone.

    I've read quite some books of your list, but one of the darker ones I read a while back is: Those who save us by Jenna Blum. Quite disturbing at times, but so happy i read it.

    happy reading!

  12. This is a great list. I'm a writer so it's part of my job to read. I read everything under the sun, from the classics, to great writing, to downright terrible writing. But more than that, I just love to read. I love getting lost in an amazing book and spending hours with the characters the authors have created. I'm reading a book right now called 1929. It's the first in a supposed trilogy and while parts of it drag, it's absolutely fascinating to read about the rise and fall of the upper class during the stock market crash and into the Great Depression. I'm definitely going to check out some of the books you suggested.

  13. Twilight. ha. totally kidding.
    I actually wish I read more. I used to love to read and need to make more time for it.
    Found your blog through Story of my life. Loving it already.

  14. I read things that I wish I had written-- and by that I mean books with topics that I would have loved to research or books with characters I would have wanted to spend time developing. I read daily because fiction is a necessary part of life and reflection of it is necessary for literature.

    Stumbled across your blog and really liking it.

  15. these are all so great. although, confession: I've never read the giver. oops!

  16. I generally like my books like I like my movies....nothing I have to think too hard to understand and nothing depressing. I like entertainment and darker books just don't do it for me. I adore Harry Potter! Little Women is my next favourite and I'm currently re-reading the Diana Gabaldon series. I must admit I do like to occasional chick lit or Nora Roberts as well-when I need a book to read on a Saturday afternoon, I hit one of those!

  17. The Power of One By Bryce Courtenay - I try to read this at least one a year, it's a fantastic story.

    One Day by David Nicholls

    Shadow of the Wind - by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

  18. I just finished the most recent installment of the Inspector Gamache series, written by Louise Penny. Penny lives outside of Montreal and used to be a CBC reporter. The stories take place in Quebec and each book (there are now 8 books) involves a mystery. Great books! The first book is called "Still Life".
    I second the "Shadow of the Wind" as a must read.
    Other recent good reads:
    "The Light Between Oceans" by ML Stedman
    "Running the Rift" by Naomi Benaron
    "The Unlikely Pilgramage of Harold Fry" by Rachel Joyce

    Too many books to read, so little time!

  19. I love your reasons for reading. I read to get out of my own world. To go to some other place or time, to a world unlike my own. I love history, so I specifically love historical fiction. My all time favorite is "How Green Was My Valley" by Richard Llewellyn. I read it every winter.

  20. Wow, you and I are totally on the same wavelength...I have read every single one of these books and enjoyed all of them! I'll be sure to remember to hit you up for book recommendations once I get through my massive list :)

  21. I love it when I find some good books to read! I'm going to copy your list!


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