OWL Magazine Korea

“Why Do We Read?” by Charles Dantzig

In recent times, with the advancement of the internet and media, the population of readers has been decreasing. Nowadays, even if one doesn’t read books, they can access various articles and writings online through search engines.

With just a smartphone, one can access almost all the information in the world. Additionally, with the recent development of AI technology, people can ask AI questions about things they’re curious about and get quick answers, making it an era where answers to relevant questions can be obtained rapidly through AI.

Given these changes, it’s difficult to simply attribute the decline in the population of book readers to a problem.

“Charles Dantzig: Why Do We Read?”

Charles Dantzig is a French author. The title of his book, “Pourquoi Lire?” (Why Do We Read?), intrigued me due to its philosophical nature.

I became curious about what the author intended to convey with such a title, prompting me to delve into the book.

“A Collection of Brief Essays on Reading”

Despite the profound and philosophical title, upon closer inspection, the contents of the book are not as deep as one might expect. The book consists of brief essays written by Charles Dantzig on the topic of “reading” rather than delving into philosophical subjects.

Thanks to this format, it’s an engaging book where readers can indirectly encounter the author’s thoughts on various small topics.

The author shares his thoughts on reading, writing, crafting good prose, and enjoying good literature based on his own reading experiences. However, due to the author’s French background, he occasionally references works by unfamiliar French authors or works by British authors with close ties to France, making it challenging to grasp the context due to a lack of background knowledge.

While French literature may still be unfamiliar to me compared to literature from other countries, reading this book made me consider consistently reading works by authors from various European countries in the future.

“Reasons for Reading”

Returning to the title of the book, let’s ponder: Why do I read? The simplest answer would be: because it’s enjoyable.

Just as we eat to sustain our bodies, we read to nurture our minds. Through consistent reading and contemplation, we can generate better ideas and gradually grow mentally.

While our bodies may deteriorate with time, our mental faculties can improve with continuous cultivation, making us better over time.

Books not only serve as nourishment for the mind but also as a source of self-improvement and a foundation for pursuing dreams.

“Reading starts with selfishness but ultimately leads to altruism.”

Regarding the reasons for reading, the author conveys the following message:

  • While we may start reading books out of selfishness, what readers ultimately gain is altruism.
  • Initially, there may be no altruism in reading books.

Indeed, the initial reason for picking up a book may be out of selfishness, whether for personal growth or enjoyment. However, after reading, through engaging with the author and empathizing with their thoughts, readers can ultimately gain altruism.

This book, a collection of essays by the unfamiliar French author Charles Dantzig on the subject of “reading,” may have a weighty title, but its actual content is not as heavy as one might expect. It’s a light read that allows for easy empathy.

“Why Do We Read?: For the Most Selfish Reading in the World”

  • Author: Charles Dantzig
  • Publication Date: April 3, 2013
  • ISBN13: 9788993111293
  • Yes24 Link: http://app.ac/hErpVBS13