What Got You Reading?


Obviously anyone who reads this post is an avid reader or a bookish individual that values reading greatly. So, with that in mind, I'm curious! What, exactly, got you reading? What made you the reader you are today?

I want to know more about my readers, so tell me your story below! I'll share mine...but I feel like I should warn you that it is a little personal.


Like many other readers, I began reading because books are my way to escape. Fantasy is my favorite genre because I can literally escape into a new world with new ways of life and forget about reality for a while. Not that my reality is necessarily terrible. It really isn't, but growing up my life was, well, complicated to say the least. Unique is a better way to describe it, but that's just heading into cliche.

When I was in kindergarten both my parents became disabled in two separate accidents roughly nine months apart. This is one of the most defining moments in my life because it altered me in unexplainable ways since this time in my life is among my first solid memories. My father was born with a bubble in his brain and that bubble burst and his brain bled a lot. That's how it was described to me as a child that didn't understand terms like "aneurism" and "multiple strokes" and "questionable survival." Today, he is my absolute best friend, but when I was six years old, watching him struggle after being in the hospital for lengthy periods of time, having to learn how to walk again and remember things, re-take his drivers exam after learning he could no longer be an attorney, was slightly traumatizing. It didn't dawn on me how miraculous it was to still even have him around until years later when I could understand the fact that those long hospital stays when I was younger was because my Dad would have died if he got to the hospital even two minutes later.

Nine months later, my mother took his car out for a drive to keep it running after playing at being his bedside nurse for all hours of the day. She fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a telephone pole while going around a turn. Her entire spine is pretty much metal rods and screws now and she's forced to be nearly stationary because of the intense pain she constantly experiences. If you know me at all, you'll know that I will do nearly anything to avoid having to drive a car myself, and I think this accident is the basis of my phobia combined with an accident that happened many many years later where I was actually in the car. But that's a story for another time...

Between these events, reading became my lifeline and it continued to be after their respective accidents. Having grown up at an incredibly young age, I quickly began to read above my age level and once I started I never stopped.


Well, that's a lie. I did stop for a bit in elementary school after it became apparent to me that my home life wasn't what you would exactly call normal. Returning home to two disabled parents was an experience in itself and the mindset that it gave me was drastically different and more mature than most of my peers. I just realized the world wasn't the perfect, happy, safe place we all think it is when we are young at an age where I should have still been blissfully naive to certain evils. Instead of reading, I often spent time with friends noticing differences between our families.

And then a divorce came along and I started reading again and that's when it really never stopped. It's not even like the divorce hurt me, because it didn't. The most traumatizing aspect of their divorce for me was watching my Dad take my cat to his house and knowing I could only see him half a week instead of everyday. To late-elementary school me, this was like my world was ending because that crazy black cat and I are still on best friend status today.

After their accidents, it became increasingly obvious to me that my parents are two very different kinds of people because of their outlook on the world after facing death and somehow, miraculously, winning. For that, I'm really thankful. And it's that epiphany that made me realize that I am a happier person with a book in my hand, even if that book makes me cry sometimes. It gives me a way to channel my emotions into 400 pages without them going haywire because I don't know where else to channel them. Reading was my coping mechanism through every hard part of my life and I became so reliant on the ability to read my worries away, so to speak, that I don't know what to do without reading.

Reading literally keeps me sane today and I've learned to rely on it so much that I can't imagine a world without books. I mean, I love them so much that I'm pursuing a career where I am surrounded by books to help others realize how life-changing reading can be!


And, as personal and complicated as that was, that's what got me reading.

This post was inspired by a casual conversation I had with a friend near the end of the school year who asked me why I am the reader I am today. I thought about it a lot, and realized that this is why. I'm curious about other people's reasons for being the readers they are today. So, tell me below, what got you reading? (:

40 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing that , Lili. I can definitely relate to the escapism. My mom suffered from depression my entire childhood and I think reading definitely kept me afloat. Now, it's less of a coping mechanism and more of a treasured friend, if that makes sense.

    Kate @ Ex Libris

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    1. I totally agree! It's less of a coping mechanism and more of a treasured friend for me as well, but when I go extended periods of time without reading (especially in high stress situations), it goes back to being my coping mechanism. A job of a friend is to keep you afloat anyway, you know?

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  2. Wow, thank you for sharing. When I was little, I didn't really have any friends, so books became and still are good friends. I've also, always loved to travel and books are a great way to travel to all kinds of places whether real or not. Reading is also a very good stress releaser, so when I want to escape I love diving into a book! I can definitely relate to channeling emotions into a set of pages in a book!

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    1. I totally agree about the travel part! I love it when I find a vivid book set in another state/country/time period because I am a travel/culture nut myself.

      Best stress release ever, huh?

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  3. Nothing quite so book-worthy for me. :) (Seriously, what a story! Wow!) My parents always read to me even when I was too little to understand. Then, by the time I was three or four and rather independent, I begged my mom to teach me so I could read my books for myself. And she did.

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    1. Heh yeah my story is certainly complicated & unique. Over the years I've realized it's kind of like a story to those who don't live it themselves since I still deal with it all today.

      But anyhow, that's still really cute! Once you start, you never stop ;) My Dad used to read to me all the time when I was little because he wouldn't get back from his law practice until 7pm at night and that was the only time for us to bond on the weekends, and I think that's part of the reason why I was reading Dr. Seuss books at age three like nobody's business.

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  4. I started reading because reading was one of the easiest and accessible things to do. My brother hid his video games because he didn't like me to play them, and books were always there. My mom taught me to read well before Pre-K, and she always had new books for me so reading has been a constant in my life since I started walking. I definitely use it for escapism though, especially after Depression got it's claws in me. Sometimes the world is too much and books make things seem easier to handle.

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    1. "Sometimes the world is too much and books make things seems easier to handle." AMEN!

      I learned to read before Pre-k, too! And that's interesting how it was your go to as a very young child. I was very much a go outside and shove people in dirt pre-schooler haha

      Books really are the best form of escapism out there, I wholeheartedly agree!

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  5. I started reading as a coping mechanism too. Both of my parents were heroin addicts, and my dad was an alcoholic on top of it so my home life sucked. When my parents weren't fighting each other I was my mom's verbal/physical/emotional punching bag and my two younger brothers were always super close and left me out of everything. On top of all that I was a weird and poor kid who had a hard time with fitting in and social interaction so I had almost no friends. Reading was what I used to escape it all. I basically lived at the library to avoid being home and books were my best friends.

    It still is in a way but I don't need it now in the way I did then, I just love it too much to ever stop.

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    1. ANGIE! <3 That is so intense, I am so sorry! But you got out and you are living such a great life now and you got kickass friends that will punch people if they ever hurt you like Nikki and me and Ashlea and ALL OF THE BOOKISH PEOPLES! <3

      My first job was at a library for three years, so I totally get the surrounded by books being calming aspect of a library.

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    2. I DID GET OUT AND MY FRIENDS ARE KICKASS AND I LOVE YOU ALL TOO MUCH FOR WORDS.

      JEALOUS. I would have given anything to work at a library.

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  6. Everything you have been through has made you the amazing person that you are now. I seriously can't believe that your family had to go through all of that. I am definitely an escapist reader, a world without magic can be boring at times. My brother, the designer (haha), was the one who got me into reading. He gave me his Harry Potter books and made me read them. There were even prizes for page milestones. I haven't stopped since. Then he introduced me to YA with Twilight and now I recommend him all of the books.

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    1. ...Your brother should design a purse line having to do with Harry Potter. That should be his break out. He would get so much money from crazy nutty fanatics like us <3

      Haha but yeah you're brother is kind of the best person ever!

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  7. I am real,y sorry to hear what your family went through girl. That is pretty hard for any child to endure. However our past shapes our future if you try to keep on the brighter side of things. I have too since I had a traumatizing childhood as well. Well not as well our were different but lead to the same result. My father left when I was 4 and my mother was a crazy alcoholic/addict who dumped us with my grandparents at the age of 6 my grandparents were amazing people and I would have gone into foster homes if not for them but seeing all that drama surrounding your parents still affects you. Reading was my escape from that. I was a troubled teen always cutting class and in trouble but I always read in fact I got made fun of quite a bit for it and I told those people where they can shove their opinions in some much less polite ways. my mother died when I was 19 so again I turned to books otherwise I was always out and about at clubs and hanging out with quite unsavory characters. I was scared to go down a path that my parents went down so it was a blessing when I got prefers at 27. That is why when I had my child mad settled down for good about 4-5 years ago books were the one comfort I had. They're is a saying and I'm prob misquoting but it goes something like books allow you to go places when you have to stay where you are and boy you have to stay where you are when you have a young child to care for. I'm lucky to be at stay at home mom so I get plenty of time for reading. This may seem like a sad story but it's not im freakin awesome and I think everything I suffered through as a child or teen or young adult for that matter shaped me to be who I am and now I can pass my obscenely positive attitude onto my son. Harry Potter will alway be my heart and soul though. Those books helped me through so much. Xoxoxo
    ❤️Britt
    Ps your awesomness comes from your strength remeber always

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    1. This just goes to show that our childhood affects us, but so does our teenage years. Thank you so much for such a long comment and for sharing your story! I don't know what to say aside from thanks for feeling like you could share with me!

      Your awesomeness does come from your strengths! And books take you places when you're stationary. I totally agree <3

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    2. Britt you're an amazing Mom!!!!!

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    3. Thanks guys! i loved this post!

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  8. Hooooooly shit. You went through a lot as a kid! I'm glad your dad was able to recover from his aneurysm and strokes to the point of being able to walk and re-take his driver's exam. My poor grandpa never really got to either point. He couldn't even get his hand back to write anymore. :( Thank you for sharing that, Lili. <3

    I had a lot of trouble at home and with bullying too, but surprisingly enough, my reading was independent from my need to not think about my alcoholic grandmother (I came home and at least every other day, if not every day, I found her passed out in her chair drunk and had to take photos for my parents) and the sexual harassment I was starting to get at age 13. Mom says I was a reader from pretty early on, but she's A LYING LIAR THAT LIES.

    My very simple story is thus: I read an excerpt of the fourth Vampire Kisses book in CosmoGirl, decided I needed the entire series, and got them just before I went on a camping trip. By the time the weekend was over, I'd reread each book at least twice and I was converted to being a reader. My love of VK is also what led me to discover fan fiction and book blogging, so it is still a big deal to me, as I'm pretty sure the entire world knows by now.

    I guess it kinda became an escape from all the bullshit once I got started rather than me seeking it out in the first place as an escape. Either way, reading helped me become a better person and put me in a good place. If I hadn't become a reader and developed my moral compass that way, I'd be in a really bad place today. I'm certain of it.

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    1. Yeah kindergarten was, like, a supremely traumatic year for me. And it never really stopped because I still deal with the repercussions of their accidents today psychologically, mentally, emotionally, financially, etc. But it's part of my life and who I am and I figured why not share?

      Haha I do know your love of VK! Now it makes a little more sense. Hahaha a lying liar that lies xD My Mom says I was always a reader too since I started at age three, but that's not the full case on my end either.

      Your love of reading gave you something else to focus on aside from the stuff happening in your life, even if you didn't seek it out purposely the way I did. It just kind of became your escape. I love that! And I think I would be a different person today, too, without reading.

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  9. A couple years ago my mom had a stroke, and it was very, very hard for me to deal with. She recovered fully, and as far as strokes go, it was quite mild. But it was still scary and I can't imagine having to deal with it as a kid. Holy shit.

    I started reading at an absurdly young age because my stepdad was trying to make me into some baby genius type kid. I enjoyed being the smartest kid in the room but that was really the only pleasure I got from being a skilled reader until I was about 10 or 11. For my birthday, my dad made a rushed, last minute stop at Rite Aid and picked up the first Harry Potter book for me. At the time, I was annoyed with such a "lame" gift. But then I was really, really sick one night, and read the thing cover-to-cover in one sitting. That's when reading really took off for me. I would read here and there before, but now I was addicted.

    Like you, reading became an escape for me. My childhood was fucking awful, in completely different ways from yours. Reading was one of the things I could do to pull myself out of my own head, but also one of the few activities my dad was okay with me doing. I'm not really sure what kind of person I'd be if I hadn't picked up that Harry Potter book.

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    1. Heh yeah I kind of had no idea what was going on while knowing at the same time that something really bad was happening? It was hard. Doubly hard by the fact that this was an intense stroke and one that should have killed him.

      Hahaha super genius baby kid <3 I love it! My parents were kind of similar in a way. They had my IQ tested multiple times when I was in the middle of my elementary school career to see if I qualified for Mensa (which I did). The only solid facts I remember from the experienced aside from my IQ is the fact that as an elementary school student I was reading at a 12th grade level.

      HARRY POTTER CHANGE YOUR LIFE...LITERALLY!!!!

      Well I like the person you are now, so I think we are all thankful you picked up that book <3

      I'm noticing that a lot of our childhood's have been less then ideal, but we've all turned out pretty okay if you ask me.

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  10. It is always difficult seeing parents, and other relatives, going through ordeals when you're young and don't comprehend what's going on exactly. You just know something isn't going the way it's supposed to be going, something isn't normal like the other kids your age, and it's frustrating. I'm very sorry that you dealt with this growing up. I'm glad your dad was able to recover, and that you built a solid relationship with him. I also don't blame you about not being much into driving. The older I get, the more and more I hate it. It puts my anxiety into the roof.

    I already talked to you a great deal on Twitter, but yeah, like I said--it was good that you found books through it. It's an odd thing, isn't it? How many of us readers have dealt with our bad experiences by escaping through books? I look at some friends who HATE reading or not like it so much (and only read a little here and there) and they had standard, but nice childhoods... and then I meet readers like many of us bloggers and learn about some of their experiences. I've realized how much of a pattern there is. Many of us craved those escapes during our hard times. We became readers because of that. That's why books are so special to us.

    Certainly not saying every single case is that way one way or the other, but I have noticed a large pattern myself anyway. And you're right in your above comment. I think we all turned out pretty okay. And I'm glad for the friends I've made through books and for being a reader. <3

    I would tell my story right here. But it is a bit long. And puts me in an attack and tears almost every time. I'm not ashamed to tell it. But I think it should be more public than a comment. I want it to prevent anyone from contemplating suicide. Or if anyone is getting hurt. Or worse. Thank you again for the permission to use the topic idea.

    <3
    Pixie

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    1. Yes to this entire post (mostly because we talked a lot about it through DMs)

      I look forward to your post, girl! <3

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  11. Such a brave post! My mum had an aneurysm 7 years ago, it always surprised me how I never knew there are so many of those life-changing bubbles, and now I seem to hear about them all the time. I definitely get you on how difficulties in life can make you mature and grow up quicker than your peers, which kind of leads me to how I started reading. I guess I was a bit of a lonely kid. I know how that sounds, I don't quite mean it that way... We lived in an area that didn't have many kids, and I am the youngest by at least 13 years in my family, so I grew up with adults. This resulted overall in an overactive imagination, a little loneliness and a desire to know everything about the world ever. Mum got me into reading because it was the only way I'd stay quiet for long enough for her to think, and similarly, throw a divorce and some bullying into the mix and I just ran away with my favourite fictional characters. I stopped reading so much for a while when I hit my teens, and definitely when I went to uni, but I got the bug back when I graduated. Escapism is probably my top reason :)

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    1. Ran away with my favorite fictional characters...I love that terminology! <3

      And thank you for stopping by and sharing your story! I've noticed as I've grown older I've found more of those bubbles, too, though they affect us all in different ways.

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  12. Wow, really inspiring post Lili. Your story of what brought you to reading is a powerful one. I do not even know how to write a comment back hah so sorry if it all sounds like a mess. I am not really sure what got me reading honestly. I can think back to growing up and having a light that automatically turned off after 30 minutes. So I would be allowed 30 minutes before bed every night to read. That is my earliest memory of reading. In HS I read all the time. My reading throughout college was very phased. I would read like one book a year for two years and then just power through a good number and then stop and so forth until I graduated from grad school did I really pick it up again.

    Ashley @ The Quiet Concert

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    1. That reading light story is so adorable though, Ashley! And that's how I am at school except shorter periods of time. I could read four books in a week and then go 6 weeks without reading. It all depends on where I am mentally because I ALWAYS building reading time into my schedule but if I am having a bad semester emotionally then I just can't read. Does that make sense?

      And your comment and story is appreciated no matter what <3

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  13. The story of what got you into reading is worthy of being written into a novel. Seriously. The story of how I got into reading is nowhere nearly as book-worthy! My parents read to me every single day until I was old enough to read myself, and the rest is history ;)

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    1. I would be so embarrassed if my life turned into a book. It's so up and down even today because of the repercussions of everything that it would traumatize readers ;)

      Hey, not all of us have to go through tragedy to discover the gift that is ready. Your story is just as important as anyone elses! <3

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  14. Wow. What a story. Thank you for sharing that. It appears you've been through your fair share of traumatic events, and at a very young age too. Everything happens for a reason I'm told, and for you it turned out in your love of books. :)

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    1. I am a serious believer in the term "everything happens for a reason" lol trust me!

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  15. Wow what a story, must be tough growing up like that. I always find it kinda sad how we go from a kid who think everythgin is good, to being an adult and realizing the world isn't always a ncie place and bad things can happen. Sounds like you had to grow up soon.

    I don't really remember what got me reading, my earliest memories involve my mom reading us stories and me coming up with my own stories and telling them to my sister before we went to sleep. I always loved stories and when i got to elementary school I started writign my own stories, I always wanted to be a writer when i was younger. When I was a teen I think i read to escape as well, to be somewhere else instead of with my own troubles.

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    1. I definitely grew up young, yes.

      You as a child was so adorable!! I love your story!!

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  16. This story is very personal and I'm so glad you decided to share. Reading is a great way to be transported to a different world for a period of time. Your parents were one of the lucky ones.

    I left my story in a comment on great imaginations, but I will repost it here. I was one of those people that I was always reading. I always had a book checked out from the library and would use my free time in school to read. That is transformed into my reading today where I read constantly and am never found not reading at least one book. Reading has became a part of my life. It allows me to forget about the stress of college and know so many amazing characters. I can’t remember the first book that really got me into reading, but I really want to say Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My third grade teacher read the book to us, but I did not read the series myself until I was in middle school. I enjoyed the Fudge Series and the Magic Tree House series in elementary. I was obsessed with Laura Ingalls Wilder in middle school. I read her whole series as well as majority of the spin off series. I also read The Love Comes Softly Series, which is also about the pioneer spirit. I think what got me into reading is a lot of great teachers encouraging me to read. I have a lazy eye and wore a patch over my eye until third grade. Since I couldn’t see the greatest I was slow to learn how to read. I received title one help at school and once I learned how to read I discovered a whole new world. I remember loving aurthur, berstein bears, dr. suess, and if you give a mouse a cookie books in elementary. I mostly would read anything I could get my hands on. My parents are not readers, but we always had books at our disposal and I’m so thankful for that.

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    1. It truly, truly is <3

      I love stories like this! Loving reading from a young age and just continuing on that journey with books! I am in college, too, and reading certainly takes away the stress when I find the time!

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  17. Thank you for sharing your story. I'm always interesting in how readers become readers and their history.

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