I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I joined a book club on Facebook, which is a great place to see what others are reading, interact with other readers, and have an online discussion about a book once a month. Last week, an interesting discussion came up in the group. It was based on a comment made by Uli Beutter Cohen on a recent episode of the What Should I Read Next podcast. Since I had just listened to that episode, I got to thinking about what she had said. Essentially, she stated that she had recently read Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (as had I!), and Anne Bogel commented that she wasn’t sure if she liked the book after reading it until she thought about it more. Uli Beutter Cohen then said, “One of the things that Subway Book Review is teaching me…is that the whole purpose of a book is to make us think, and to make us consider our perspective, and to dive into a world, maybe ideally, that we know nothing about.” She was saying this in reference to the fact that we don’t necessarily need to feel that we like or dislike a book.
This comment, and the ensuing conversation on the book club group, really got me thinking about what I get out of reading, and why I pick up books. Although I can see where she is coming from, I have to disagree a bit with her comment. Primarily, for me, reading is for enjoyment. For me, reading is relaxing, and I want to feel the emotions of characters, view a new setting or place, and yes, sometimes I want to learn about something new. I want to read books that I can talk to other people about and learn what they got out of the pages. I sometimes want to read books that definitely challenge me either in language or subject matter, but often, I just want to read a book that will allow my brain to relax and take on someone else’s story for awhile. I think this is why I gravitate towards fiction overall, as I’ve mentioned before.
We all have different tastes and different reasons for reading. I know I am a bit of a mood reader. If I’m feeling really tired, I don’t necessarily want to pick up a non-fiction book, or a piece of literary fiction, or a classic. I might just want to pick up a YA book or something that feels “easier” to read. If I’m craving a bit of a break from a busy life, I want a book that I can think about constantly and absorb myself in until I know how it ends.
In general, listening to What Should I Read Next over the past year has REALLY made me think about what I look for when I’m selecting books. Anne Bogel tries to find the connection between her guests’ three books they love and one book they don’t love and really base her recommendations on that. I know that I love rooting for certain characters. If I don’t like ANY of the characters in a book, I probably won’t like the book unless it was just crazy exciting or something.
What do you think? Why do you read? Are you a mood reader? I have a few more thoughts on this that I will be sharing soon. I find it interesting because I feel like I interact with a lot of avid readers, both online and in my family but I think we all hope to get something different out of our reading lives!