Why do we read books?


“What are words? Telepathy,” said Stephen King in the introduction to his memoir On Writing — a book where he discusses the limitless impact of reading and writing, of expressing ourselves with our most primary function of communication.

But why is it important for students to find the time to read words that take you further than tedious textbooks and lecture slides? Why must we utilize humanity’s “telepathy” to the fullest?

With the pressing workloads that come with university, not all students are given the luxury to sit back and delve into the pages of a good book.

Beyond the launching pad of being rocketed to new worlds, of escaping our current reality to see life in a different light, reading allows us to empathize with other cultures, people and situations — amplified through fictional and non-fictional forms of storytelling. Reading opens our eyes to different realities, adjusts our sight to new paradigms and creates windows into the distant lives of internal expression.

Empathy is the fuel for compassion — humanity’s most crucial trait. Without it we are lost within the egotistic foundation of our animalistic selves. When we read, empathy expands, our compassion grows stronger and our lives are enriched with fresh ideals that allow society to continuously evolve. With the undying demand for communication, stories are the basis of our evolution.

With an unlimited variety of genres out there, we can safely say there is a book for everyone. It’s only a matter of finding what’s there for you.

Many students much prefer using any spare time for surrendering to their Netflix account or watching a movie online instead of cracking open a new novel.

In a world where so much is automatic, where nearly everything can be done in a couple of clicks, it makes sense that many people seem to prefer the cinematic visual experience.

When you watch a movie, everything is imagined for you. Every frame has been meticulously developed and rendered to make you perceive the continuous dream through an extremely specified and suggestive experience. Sure, viewers can still interpret movies through different ideas and comprehensions, and greater contemplations can spiral through your head long after the post credits, but the initial worlds you see have been built by other minds. Everything on the screen has been materialized for you.

When reading, we become the architects of our own imagination. Cities are constructed, worlds are created, characters are visualized, emotions are stirred and inspiration is sparked — all through nothing but the carefully formulated guidance of black and white lines on a page.

Some literature can pull readers into stories so intensely, it can alter the way we look at life. The compelling power of stories is something that outlives each and every one of us.

Thoughts, memories and ideas are immortalized through the everlasting exchange of narrative, the artistic weaving of literary expression.

The stories we love inspire stories of our own — a cycle that begins with carefully-constructed sentences and the representation of a writer’s most complex thoughts.

Books are more than those ancient dust-collectors rotting away on the shelves of that study area you call the “library.” They are our favourite adventure, our worst nightmare, our fantasized romance, our most mind-boggling mystery and our life-changing experience.

They anchor our souls yet let us sail away.

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Serving the Waterloo campus, The Cord seeks to provide students with relevant, up to date stories. We’re always interested in having more volunteer writers, photographers and graphic designers.