Art Works Blog

Why Read?

Washington, DC
July 8, 2010

"Read More Books" by Tom T from Flickr

Today the National Endowment for the Arts announced the 75 organizations that will receive grants for Big Read projects that will take place between September 2010 and June 2011. (You can take a look at the news release here.) We look forward to seeing how communities tackle old favorites, such as To Kill at Mockingbird and Fahrenheit 451, as well the newest addition to The Big Read library, Julia Alvarez?s In the Time of the Butterflies.

In anticipation of an exciting year, we decided to take a look back at some of our favorite Why Read? answers from the past year. We look forward to asking this question many times over the coming year, and we invite you to leave your own Why Read response in the comments below.

I read to travel---time travel, country travel, consciousness travel. This year, I?ve been to Iraq and Afghanistan (The Forever War), the Dust Bowl during the Depression (The Worst Hard Time), Sweden in the 1970s (The Terrorists), and North Carolina, again during the Depression (Serena). So I?ve gotten around, met some people, lived some lives. And I didn?t have to pay for checked baggage. A great book is dangerous---it makes everything else in your life vanish.  ---Dennis Lehane, author of Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, and The Given Day

We are assailed by a thousand sounds and images that distract us from ourselves, from our own thoughts. Reading is a way to come back into ourselves, into our soul, remember who we are, reflect on our lives, reflect on the world, reflect on other people.  ---Carlos Fuentes, one of the Mexican writers featured in the Big Read anthology Sun, Stone, and Shadows: 20 Great Mexican Short Stories

I read because opening the cover of a book is like opening a door into a new world, a world with more excitement, mystery, thrills, intrigue, and suspense than the real world. A world with more justice, honesty, ethics, and truth than the real world. I read because in books I find the world in which I most want to spend time. ---Todd Borg, author of the Owen McKenna mystery thrillers

I read because I like it. I get kicks from reading. If reading were bad for me, I would read. If reading were illegal, I would read. If the only way to get at any reading material were to lift one end of a big concrete slab up off it and hold the slab there with my hip while I was reading, I would read. And reading isn?t bad for me, it isn?t illegal, and it doesn?t require heavy lifting. What a deal! ---Roy Blount, Jr., biographer, essayist, and columnist

Add new comment