Why read books? Reading is a vital part of studies. From reading, students gain the majority of information for lectures and it is possibly the most substantial way of preparation for exams. But with that much text around, can one still enjoy it?
One can. And one should! And that’s where our dear Rune comes in. Apart from his passion for birdwatching, which we discussed in the 16th episode of Humans of SDU, he is also very enthusiastic about reading. And he shares that enthusiasm extremely infectiously in the following paragraphs.
Read on. Read about reading. Read about why you should read. Read the following lines as well as between the lines. Enjoy the read. Read. R.E.A.D.
I have read books for my entire life and I can’t remember a day where I didn’t read in a book. Reading has become a part of me, and my bookshelf is a representation of my life. I can remember when I bought most of my books and where I was when I read them. Since I didn’t start keeping a journal until lately this means that I can’t let go of any of my books because it would mean that I would lose part of my past. So, the collection is ever growing and of course, it causes some space related problems. But I am not truly bothered because I love my books. And I have a thought about why reading is so important to me and why everyone should read books:
Reading books can take you to different worlds
To open the first volume of Lord of The Rings is like going through a portal to another world. The level of detail and the fantastic descriptions of the landscapes in the books make you feel like you are part of Frodo’s fellowship on their travel to Mordor. It is amazing how J. R. R. Tolkien has managed to create this huge fantasy world with creatures, languages, cities, mountains, and magic without losing the feeling of something relatable and homely.
Reading books can let you read other people’s minds
Books can give you a glimpse of what the world looks like through the eyes of the characters which is quite unique for this media. I have had this feeling when reading, for example, Michel Houellebecq who describes the western world’s demise through the eyes of lonely, depressed, and depraved main characters with whom I share some characteristic, but definitely not all. Karl Ove Knausgård offers the same opportunity in many of his books, maybe best known is his mastodon novel My Struggle where he uses himself as the main character and describes his feelings, thoughts, doubts, and most embarrassing moments. Maybe reading books like these train your ability to change perspective and put yourself into other’s place?
Reading books can let your travel in time
Sometimes you can pick up a book written a long time ago and when you start reading, it is like being right there where the story takes place. Tove Jansson’s The Summer Book takes you right back to that warm summer in the seventies in the Finnish archipelago. And when you read Robert Louis Stevenson’s Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes, you feel like you are exploring the rural parts of Southern France with him in the 19th century (especially the scene where he camps under the stars is vivid and transcends all the past years). Good literature describes universal feelings and experiences and is never outdated. Just think of the Odyssey – an almost 3000 years old collection of stories that keep fascinating and inspiring us.
Reading books can make you forget time and place
When I read Delphine de Vigan’s great literary thriller Based on a True Story, I remember getting drawn so deep into the thrilling and claustrophobic plot that I couldn’t stop reading and I almost stumbled upon the words because I read way too fast. Great books can activate this lust for the story and craving for another page to an extend where you forget yourself.
Reading books can offer you unique experiences
Certain books are very special and describe phenomena that are not describable in any other way. Inger Christensen’s Butterfly Valley: A Requiem is such a book. In the poem, the main character walks through a warm valley while reflecting on the past. The butterflies in the valley and the memories of dead friends merge together in this masterpiece of a systematic poem written with extreme beauty. It will only take 20 minutes to read it but after the last page is turned, you feel like you just went through something special. Hear Inger Christensen read the crown of sonnets here (in Danish).
These are five good reasons why I love to read, and I would recommend everyone else to do the same. Read more and read good literature that entertain you and make you wiser.
LINKS FOR INSPIRATION
- My favorite bookstore is Litteraturhuset in Svendborg:
- The Gutenberg project with 60.000+ free, mainly older e-books:
- The Danish libraries’ page with e-books:
- Search across many Danish second-hand book stores: