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Our Love of Reading

The rituals and companionship of being a bookworm.

By Sam H ArnoldPublished about a month ago 3 min read
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There is a book which has not moved a centimetre in 800 years. It is on the tomb of Eleanor of Aquitaine in Fontevraud Abbey, near Poitiers. Books have been part of our lives for many years, but it was not always like this. Before the popular printing press was invented, reading tended to be a hobby of the elite.

With the introduction of public lending libraries, books were introduced to more people. Famous classic authors such as Charles Dickens and George Elliott were published in serial form to reduce expenses.

As our availability of books grew, so did our love of reading. All of us would struggle to explain our love affair with reading to an alien.

Curled with a book, we continue to find new versions of ourselves. We live vicariously through the characters that we travel with.

Reading Aloud

Reading started as a group activity. Families would gather around the fire with the latest Charles Dickens and read to the family. The books published in serial form would then be the topic of conversation for many weeks until the next instalment. Much as people discuss soap operas now.

Alexander the Great was the first to read silently. He sat there with a book in his hand whilst all around him looked on in shock. Why was he not sharing his reading with them?

This privacy with reading resulted in a more profound emotional attachment to books. Books then took the reader on a more emotional journey and dealt with more taboo subjects.

Women and Reading

Reading has primarily been seen as a female hobby, but this is far from the truth. A quick flick through BookTok will show you that this preconception is wrong, as some of the best BookTok creators are men.

However, Martin Latham observed in his book The Booksellers Tale that women generally engage with their books more than men. By this, he said they smell, kiss and cuddle their books. I am indeed a book sniffer, are you?

Reading was considered so popular with women that a new genre of Chicklit was introduced, which wrote romantic stories, especially for women. The traditional reading genres of SciFi for men and Romance for women have largely been forgotten today, and we are all happy to read a good book regardless of gender and topic.

Escapism

Books do not just entertain us, but they can also inform us. The Ancient Library of Alexander said to house all the world's great information, is now primarily considered a fake that never existed. It exists today, though, in the form of the internet. Still, nothing is more engaging than picking up a book and learning about another time, occupation and life.

Unfortunately, few books represent the working class, whether history books or biographies. Whether this is because the working class in history could not write or that even then, we preferred escapism to reading about our own life is a matter for debate.

Reading Rituals

Whether we read or whatever we read, bookworms are all very different and have different rituals. You might start your day diving into another life, easing your way slowly into the day.

If you have children, your reading may now consist of an expedition into the wilds of imagination as their eyes light up and you share a story, forever bonded by the journey you have gone on.

Then there is the shared silence of reading with your partner, each lost in separate books connected silently in your quiet companionship - an unspoken agreement of mutual respect and love on your parallel journeys.

You might be a reader like me in the quiet hours when we all start our nighttime rituals. Many of us are lying in bed with the dim glow of the bedside light beside us. After the hassle of the day, you find your sanctuary between the pages of a book.

Whatever your routine or how you read. Whether you read fiction or non-fiction, eBooks or physical books, we are all joined in a mutual love of the written word.

Nonfiction
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About the Creator

Sam H Arnold

A writer obsessed with true crime, history and books. Find all my dedicated newsletters whether you are a true crime fan, bookworm or aspiring writer on Substack - https://substack.com/@samharnold

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  • Daphsamabout a month ago

    Fascinating article, I find that books for me is a form of escapism takes me to another world.

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