I used to read with a flashlight under the covers at night. Or in the closet, for an added element of excitement. I read because I wanted to experience things that I didn't imagine would ever happen in quiet little College Place. Later, after overcoming my sometimes-misguided sense of adventure, I was relieved that I didn't have to encounter wars, witches, or mysterious murders on a daily basis. But some of what I read, I determined to experience for myself.
I still read late at night, although now I sometimes wish my mother would come into the room and tell me to put away my books and go to bed.
Books will always be an important part of my life. Even after I'm no longer a student.
Reading is not just a matter of becoming better-educated, more well-rounded, and more aware. I don't read just to gain factual knowledge or just to be entertained; I read to understand the world better. Good books introduce us to people we would never meet otherwise, allowing us to be exposed to their ideas and values. We can read about others' pain and learn from it, without always having to experience it directly ourselves. We can see how people express thoughts that we've never been able to put into words before.
I also read to keep myself from understanding the world- or at least to remind myself that I don't. It's easy to try too hard to find the answers to life's questions and end up forgetting to experience life itself. Sometimes it's necessary to acknowledge the fact that there are ideas we will never be able to explain and concepts we will never be able to grasp. While reading, we're often both disturbed and comforted when confronted with this fact.
Books have taught me to try to understand people and to look for answers, but not to worry too much if life doesn't always make sense. Some things, like war, will never make sense.