I started blogging in 2006 about books as I had noticed I was having trouble finding the time to read. I thought that structuring my reading towards the definite output of reviewing it online would help me to refocus on reading, and make sure to include time for a bit of reading in every day. Somehow, that reverse psychology worked and 2+ years later, I'm a more engaged reader than ever and still blogging about it too. (http://evagation.blogspot.com)
Why would I go through such efforts to re-include reading in my very busy life? I believe reading is exercise for the brain, and without a good dose of literature once in a while the gray matter starts to get flabby. I love the escape to a different point of view than my own, and I find that reading helps expand my thinking horizons so that I can face everyday challenges more thoughtfully.
I didn't really start reading until I was about 12. Ever since then I've always had a book in my hand. I read for pleasure as well as an escape from my busy life. My Mom and I have given our love of reading to my daughter by reading to her since the day she was born. She's 13 now and also always has a book in her hand. It's nice to pick up a really good book and just get lost in it. To me an excellent book is one that stays with you even after you've read the last page. I have two that I will read over and over again.
Right now I read because my professor tells me the answers to my tests are in the books. Go figure! I like to read for fun. Actually, to escape my textbooks. Come to find out my textbooks weren't made for enjoyment. I think reading allows you to expand yourself. There are so many things that come from reading. Reading keeps your mind moving, it builds vocabulary, and it builds imagination. Reading is a great way to exercise your brain.
I read almost exclusively for escapism purposes! I love losing myself in the lives of interesting characters, and if the book is REALLY good, it's almost like I become someone else for a short while. I do occasionally read self-help type books for obvious reasons, or non-fiction (I love celebrity autobiographies) to learn more about whatever or whoever the book is about.
I can't really answer the question why do I read. I could list the benefits I get from reading: escape & stress relief, knowledge, getting out of the rut of my own thinking, the chance to expose myself to and appreciate genius.
But, "Why?" It's almost like asking a fish why it swims. I can NOT imagine a life without books and reading. It has been the one constant. All the times I've been lost in life, when I don't know who I am or what I'm doing, I always know that I love reading and books, and that knowledge grounds me, gives me a home within myself.