Why Do You Read?

To celebrate the launch of Litographs Book Club we’re asking literature lovers from all over the world to share their answer to the question, “Why do you read?”

Read on to find inspiration for your answer from 19 well-known authors and inspiring public figures — from Barack Obama to John Green— and to find out why they read. The four most thoughtful responses will win a book of their choice from this season’s Litographs Book Club recommendations and the overall winner will have their response tweeted to millions of literary lovers around the world by @Litographs & @Medium.

How To Take Part

  • Start your response below with “I Read Because…”
  • Tell us more. Do you enjoy losing yourself in different worlds? Escaping reality? Appreciating a beautifully crafted sentence?
  • What has reading given you? Does it keep your brain sharp? Inform you about the ways of the world? Can you even imagine a world without books?
  • What was the first book you loved? Was there a book or an author in particular that got you hooked? (We love a good story…)
  • How much do you read? Do you dip your toes in occasionally or devour pages like a flame does kindling? What keeps you coming back?

At Litographs our mission is to help readers express their love of books and share the joy of reading with literary lovers around the world. In the past, we’ve invited our community to tattoo Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland across 5,000 bodies as well as crowdsource a work of art to pay tribute to the genius and lasting influence of Dr. Maya Angelou. For our next community project, we’ve teamed up with our favorite independent bookstores to launch the first national online book club. The end result is Litographs Book Club. To kick things off, we asked four booksellers from these stores:

“If you could recommend one book, what would it be?”

These were their choices: bookclub.litographs.com/recommendations

We’re proud to be working alongside such passionate and dedicated booksellers. As Jeff Mayersohn, owner of Harvard Book Store says:

“While reading is often a solitary experience, the love of books is not. Bookstores are about conversation — among readers and between writers and the reading public. We love the fact that Litographs is seeking to bring that experience online.”

Support Indie Booksellers

The link below is good for 500 clicks — be one of the first to join and get beautiful literary gifts for free!

Which brings us back to your prompt…

Once you’ve written your response, here are the next steps:

  1. Tag your Medium response with ‘IReadBecause’ and hit publish! Be sure to share your post on Twitter using #IReadBecause, mentioning both @Litographs and @Medium.
  2. Head over to Litographs Book Club and choose one of the four titles recommended by our partner Indie Booksellers.

The four most thoughtful responses will win a book of their choice from this season’s Litographs Book Club recommendations and one overall winner will have their response shared with millions of literary lovers around the world by @Litographs & @Medium. (You must publish your response before 26th November for a chance to win.)

Still thinking about your response? Below are 19 insights on reading to spark your imagination…


Barack Obama, the 44th and current President of the United States, reads voraciously to expand his worldview.

“Reading is important. If you know how to read then the whole world opens up to you.”


John Green, author of ‘The Fault in our Stars,’ YouTube video blogger and educator, reads to feel loved.

“Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they’ll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back.”


Neil Gaiman, author of ‘American Gods’, believes our future depends on reading.

“Words are more important than they ever were: we navigate the world with words, and as the world slips onto the web, we need to follow, to communicate and to comprehend what we are reading… People who cannot understand each other cannot exchange ideas, cannot communicate, and translation programs only go so far… The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity.”


Alain de Botton, philosopher, author, TED Speaker & founder of The School of Life, reads to experience a reality simulator.

“It looks like it’s wasting time, but literature is actually the ultimate time-saver — because it gives us access to a range of emotions and events that it would take you years, decades, millennia to try to experience directly. Literature is the greatest reality simulator — a machine that puts you through infinitely more situations than you can ever directly witness.”


Maya Angelou, the much-loved American author, poet, and civil rights activist, read to orientate herself in the world.

“When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.”


Maria Popova reads all day (every day) to cross-pollinate ideas for Brainpickings.

“In order for us to truly create and contribute to the world, we have to be able to connect countless dots, to cross-pollinate ideas from a wealth of disciplines, to combine and recombine these pieces and build new ideas… The richer and more diverse that pool of resources, that mental library of building blocks, the more visionary and compelling our combinatorial ideas can be.”


James Altucher, bestselling author, and podcaster, reads to pass the time.

“I read because it lets me re-live the lives of all of the authors, curated by them into a compact form so I can re-live that life in days instead of decades. Reading has saved my life more than once. It’s taught me to rob banks, it’s taught me to love better. It’s taught me how to be good and competent at things.”


Derek Sivers, best known for being the founder and former president of CD Baby, and now a writer, reads to fill his mind with knowledge.

“I read because there’s something I want to know, and books are the most efficient well-structured way to get that knowledge into my head. They’re also the only media left that are free from intrusive advertising.”


James Clear, entrepreneur, weightlifter, and travel photographer, reads to shape his thinking.

“I read because books shape my thinking. The central question that drives my own writing and work is, “How can we live better?” Reading widely has been essential in helping me answer that question and I believe that it is an essential habit for living well in our modern world.”


Ryan Holiday, American author, marketer, and entrepreneur, reads to understand himself better.

“I read because human beings have been recording their knowledge in book form for more than 5,000 years. That means that whatever you’re working on right now, whatever problem you’re struggling with, is probably addressed in some book somewhere by someone a lot smarter than you. But the purpose of reading is not just raw knowledge. It is part of the human experience. It helps you find meaning, understand yourself, and make your life better.”

Photo credit: Jarry Lee/Buzzfeed


Elissa Erwin, Editorial Assistant at Sourcebooks, likes to visit imagined worlds.

“Books tell the stories of people we don’t know, places we haven’t been, and worlds we can only imagine.”


Jon Acuff, a New York Times Bestselling author, including reads to make his world bigger.

“I read because books are a small way to make the world bigger. A book isn’t a collection of paper, it’s an invitation to different worlds.”


Virginia Woolf, the famous English author of ‘Mrs. Dalloway’ and ‘To the Lighthouse, just hoped to get through those pearly gates.

“When the Day of Judgment dawns and people, great and small, come marching in to receive their heavenly rewards, the Almighty will gaze upon the mere bookworms and say to Peter, ‘Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them. They have loved reading.’”


Brett McKay, founder of The Art of Manliness, reads to facilitate self-reflection.

“I read because books offer valuable opportunities for this kind of needed reflection and can help think through the kind of man you are, don’t want to be, and definitely hope to become. Great books facilitate reflection in a unique way because they present us with characters or stories (be they real-life or fictional) that we can relate to.”


Leo Babauta of Zen Habits reads for those moments of transformative experience.

“Reading a good book is one of my favorite things in the world. A novel is a time machine, a worm-hole to different dimensions, a special magic that puts you into the minds and bodies of fascinating people, a transporter that lets you travel the world, a dizzying exploration of love and death and sex and seedy criminal underworlds and fairylands, a creator of new best friends. All in one. I read because I love the experience, because it is a powerful teacher of life, because it transforms me.”


Paul Auster, American author and director, whose writing blends absurdism, existentialism, crime fiction, reads for pure pleasure.

“Reading was my escape and my comfort, my consolation, my stimulant of choice: reading for the pure pleasure of it, for the beautiful stillness that surrounds you when you hear an author’s words reverberating in your head.”


Mary Karr, American poet, essayist and memoirist, reads to detach herself from reality.

“Reading is socially accepted disassociation. You flip a switch and you’re not there anymore. It’s better than heroin. More effective and cheaper and legal.”


Rebecca Solnit, Writer, historian, and activist, grew up fasting on speech but feasting on books!

“The object we call a book is not the real book, but its potential, like a musical score or seed. It exists fully only in the act of being read; and its real home is inside the head of the reader, where the symphony resounds, the seed germinates. A book is a heart that only beats in the chest of another. The child I once was read constantly and hardly spoke, because she was ambivalent about the merits of communication, about the risks of being mocked or punished or exposed… so she read, taking in words in huge quantities, a children’s and then an adult’s novel a day for many years, seven books a week or so, gorging on books, fasting on speech, carrying piles of books home from the library.”


Jeff Goins, writer, speaker, and author of ‘The Art of Work’, reads for writing inspiration.

“I read because it’s an important part of becoming a good writer. Nothing inspires a writer like reading someone else’s words.”

Now it’s your turn! Tell us why you read in the responses below…


Tag your response on Medium with ‘IReadBecause’ then tweet it using #IReadBecause & @Litographs. You must submit your response before 26th November for a chance to win. If you have also signed up to Litographs Book Club, the 4 most interesting responses will each receive their chosen book for free and one overall winning response will be tweeted to millions of readers by @Litographs & @Medium.

We look forward to reading your responses!