Why do you read? It is such a fundamental question. I ran into it the other day when I was discussing the Western canon in an internet setting (I know, I should avoid those). As always the answers intrigued me more than the actual question. One answer will invariably emerge: "The point of reading is enjoyment". And this answer never fails to baffle me for a number of reasons - mostly because the idea of "enjoyment" is so problematic. What does "enjoyment" mean? Does it correspond to Roland Barthes's plaisir/readerly texts where the reader (passively) consumes a product and derives pleasure from the act of consumption? Let us look at the sentence "the point of reading is enjoyment". Looking at it objectively, it follows that the act of reading is not about the actual act of reading itself but rather about the degree of enjoyment derived from the act. The focal point is not the book being read but the reader him/herself sitting in a chair. Should the act of reading actually be described as an exercise in narcissism?
This is my main problem: every time I read or hear about how "the point of reading is enjoyment", I end up thinking of a narcissistic little twerp who only likes books where you can identify with the protagonist, consumes them like they'd consume shoes, music or any other product and who would never read anything published before they were born (except if there's a connected TV series or a film out gathering a fair amount of publicity). I have issues, clearly.
So, why do you read?