Monday, September 14, 2009

Guest Post: Jessica Anderson on Why Read?

Editor's Note: For a long time, I’ve operated under the assumption that Western culture is quickly sliding down the post-literate slope. So imagine my surprise when late last year I discovered book blogging. More than just online reviewers, book bloggers are a loose cadre of ferocious bibliophiles who challenge each other to consume everything from classics to comics within specific periods of time. Consider Jessica Anderson, a J.D. from Utah who helms The Bluestocking Society. In 2008, she read 85 books for a total of 25,382 pages (which, math lovers, averages out to 69 pages a day). In her guest post, Jessica muses over why she keeps turning to the next chapter and why she isn’t concerned about the future of the written word.

While I choose to read on a daily basis, it is more of a necessity than a desire. I consider reading (and book buying) my preeminent hobby, but my love of reading is deeper than that. I have read voraciously for as long as I can remember. I hold a special feeling in my heart for my seventh birthday, when I received hardback copies of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach and Charlotte’s Web. My parents informed me around that same time that they would no longer be buying me books on a regular basis -- I read them too quickly! Trips to the library increased thereafter and have been a consistent part of my life (along with trips to bookstores now that I can afford it).

I definitely read for comfort as well as knowledge. As a teenager, I read primarily to escape. I loved that if I was upset or angry or angsty, I could go along with Harriet on her spy route or dance with Anne on the shores of the Lake of Shining Waters or observe as Fortunato was bricked into a wall. In college, I migrated toward and completed a degree in English Literature. I spent four lovely years reading books for credit. And now that I’m out of school, I read even more. I find that reading opens my mind -- to new places and new ideas, yes, but also to old friends and familiar places that I like to visit again and again. The mere smell of books can make my day better.

In 2007, I started a personal blog soon found that I was writing mostly about the books I read. January 2008 marked the first incarnation of The Bluestocking Society. At that time, I was completely unaware of the massive "book blog community." I did a few Google searches, found a few blogs and joined a reading challenge. But it wasn’t until I landed at Dewey’s The Hidden Side of a Leaf that I discovered the book blog community -- the thousands and thousands of people blogging about reading and the love of books.

Though Dewey and her blog are no longer with us, the book blogging community is stronger than ever. I think the community thrives because reading is both solitary and interactive. I rejoice when I find a fellow book lover, because we can then release some of the reading matter that has lodged within us. I book blog because it allows me to share my passion, track my reading and interact with other book lovers. With reports of reading and book purchasing slowing in America and other parts of the world, I’m not worried about the fate of books. We readers will always continue to seek each other out.

(Picture: CC 2006 by


Suey said...

Jessica is one of my favorite book bloggin' buddies. Great post!

Anonymous said...

Well said, Jessica!

Loren Eaton said...

FYI, Jessica also earns kudos for introducing me to Moleskine notebooks.

Brittanie said...

Good post. I have not thought about it in that way before. Maybe the future is not so hopeless looking for books in the world. :)

Valerie said...

I absolutely agree with the necessity of reading. I still found time to read back in my busy college days, even though those books during that time were relatively light reads (Agatha Christie, etc).

Then, when my children were very young, my reading may have been limited to parenting books and magazines, but still I read.

If we are true book lovers, we will find the time to read, no matter what :-).

Loren Eaton said...


I wonder if casual reading will take different forms in years to come. For instance, we're already seeing the decline of print media (newspapers and magazines) and the rise of electronic (blogs).

Loren Eaton said...


Much of succesful reading (I'm becoming increasingly convinced) comes from a motivation to just do it. I've discovered that I can sneak a few pages in while brushing my teeth.