I used to think there was more to reading than just pleasure. And, of course there is; you crawl into the concealed crevices of the human mind; you voyage through time; you tiptoe from continent to continent; you experience the unknown; you come to realisations (some good, some bad); you think. And that's only the beginning of things – really.
And yet, I used to think these things were more important than the enjoyment of a book. I used to think, in order for a book to be one of my favourites, it had to make my mind dive through a myriad of emotions and unconsidered thoughts – not that it could simply make me smile. Inevitably, I'd overcomplicated and compromised the pleasure of reading.
And yet, the other day, the star-shaped cogs of sense started ticking again, and I remembered the importance of simply enjoying a book. Of course I love it when a book enables me to do all of the above, but all of that is futile if the simple turn of a page can't bring me pure enjoyment. Besides, it is when I read for pleasure I ultimately discover the most.
“With my eyes closed, I would touch a familiar book and draw its fragrance deep inside me. This was enough to make me happy.” – Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood
“I ate them like salad, books were my sandwich for lunch, my tiffin and dinner and midnight munch. I tore out the pages, ate them with salt, doused them with relish, gnawed on the bindings, turned the chapters with my tongue! Books by the dozen, the score and the billion. I carried so many home I was hunchbacked for years. Philosophy, art history, politics, social science, the poem, the essay, the grandiose play, you name 'em, I ate 'em.” – Ray Bradbury, Farenheit 451
I now believe reading for pleasure is the most valuable reason to read. It's the purest and least complicated reason; it leaves a smile flickering across your lips, and it leaves your fingers itching for the next adventure. And, more than anything, it makes you fall in love with reading, yet again.