Why do I read? (Answer in a moment, but first my babbling.)
Anyone who has read Reading Is My Super Power or had the privilege of meeting Carrie in person (benefits of CFRR!) knows that she has a joyous positive spirit. What you may not know is that Carrie and I share a common thread besides books: chronic illness. This is a book blog, why are you talking about diseases? You might be asking at this moment, but bear with me.
You, see there are a handful of things that define me and my life right now. Of course, being a Christian is the default and number one answer, but beyond the obvious statements, really two things stick out: books and multiple sclerosis. I’ve found a great friend in Carrie as we’ve bonded over books, blogs, and our health and so it was only natural in one of our 1,853,244 conversations that I’d ask her to guest post on the blog and I suggested the topic of why do we read? More specifically how, or why, do we read so much?
If you follow any of the Christian Fiction groups online, you’ve probably seen a version of this question come up, especially as it relates to how much time we spend reading the Bible. I’ll admit that I should spend more time doing this and that the answer I have for that question is quite complex. But, mulling it over with Carrie, we both realized we could summarize why we read in a list of TWO.
#1 – I love it.
Carrie: I mean… there’s not much more to say about that, is there? We love reading. We love the adventures we get to participate in vicariously. We love the new friends we meet on the pages. We love the swoony book boyfriends. (Carrie’s boys and Kat’s boys) We even just love the way the words are all put together.
The proof that God loves story is that His Story is the root of all other stories. It begins with the very first ‘once upon a time’ and ends with the ultimate ‘happily ever after.
For me, that love of reading started young. My parents read to me from birth, I’m pretty sure. My first word was ‘book’ (seriously). And I actually never really learned to read, formally. I just started reading one day from my Dick and Jane primer… and then read the 2nd chapter of Philippians to my dad while he was shaving LOL. So, reading is really part of my DNA. It’s part of what makes me ‘me’. Even if I was svelte and healthy and could leap anything in a single bound, I would still read.
Kat: I agree with all of that. My mom made me practice the alphabet at home in preschool from the giant letter poster we had. I thought it was pure torture. Until I started to grasp the concept. In kindergarten, my teacher had a poem for every letter to help us remember it and I LOVED my little book of poems, slowly collected over the year. Then, my parents got me the whole set of Dick and Jane books and I was mesmerized as I tackled each level and practically memorized them. I still went back and read them into my pre-teen years. Some of my first comfort reads.
#2 – I can’t move.
Kat: You probably didn’t expect that second one, hence the babbling. While understanding of the chronic “invisible” illness has greatly increased over the past decade, there’s still a lot of stigma around it. “You don’t look sick” is a common response, and while people may not always say it, you can see it in their mannerisms and the look on their face. For those of you who meet me at CFRR, running around like a crazy lady, this might seem especially foreign. What you didn’t see was me crashing for the next week and a half. I had to go back to work once I got home, but I basically worked, ate, and slept. I didn’t even read much because my energy was so low.
Carrie: It took me at least that long to recover from CFRR lol! It’s such a wonderful time, and God really does give this burst of energy that I need for that moment. But when it’s done? I’m back to not moving … and when I do, I shuffle like a 90-year-old haha! Which some of you might have seen if you hung out with me the next day 😛
Kat: I shuffle like a 90 year old every two weeks when I’m due for massage therapy. While many see it as a luxury, it keeps me mobile. We have so much in common!
Chronic disease is extremely complex and varies person to person, but for the most part we share fatigue and pain as the top symptoms. Both of these combine to making an active lifestyle difficult and at times depressing, which is why we read. Reading opens a world to us that our circumstances don’t often allow us to experience; we travel, go snowboarding, don’t lay on the couch an obscene amount of hours a week, be normal. Books also allow us to escape from life for just a little while; the pain and fatigue, the medical bills, the longing for living like others. Carrie and I both know that longing will never ever be fulfilled in a story, only God can do that, but stories make it just a bit easier.
Carrie: Stories DO make it easier. Because frankly sometimes life in general – not to mention life with a chronic illness – isn’t all that cheery. But when we can pick up a book, dive into a different world, make new friends in the characters, and get caught up in the author’s stellar talent? We find our spirits lifted a little bit. Like Kat said, only God can truly lift our spirits and give us unexplainable joy in the midst of ‘yuck’… but because He is such a personal God He uses what He created us to love. For some people, that’s music (and He uses that with me a lot too, even though I can’t carry a tune in a bucket). For others, that’s socializing with friends and family. And for some of us, it’s through story.
Of course, nothing replaces what He does in us through spending time with Him through His Word, the Bible. But that meets a different need, doesn’t it? He didn’t give us the Bible to entertain us, but to teach us. To equip us for life. To show His plan of redemption. And there is no way that Kat and I could muster up any semblance of joy without Him pouring it into our hearts as an overflow of spending time with Him. And yet… the proof that He loves story is that His Story is the root of all other stories. It begins with the very first ‘once upon a time’ (Gen 1:1) and ends with the ultimate ‘happily ever after’ (Rev 21). So, it’s really no surprise that He uses story to encourage and teach us even as it entertains us.
Kat: Carrie, thank you so much for sharing a piece of you today! Your friendship is a treasure as we help spread the book love and support each other through ups and downs of chronic illness.
Today’s giveaway will be a copy of The Cowboy’s Baby Blessing by Deb Kastner! The giveaway will be open for one week. As always, please read my terms and conditions for giveaways and it’s open to US residents only. Click on the link here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway.