As an avid reader, I'm often asked why I love reading so much. For a while, I didn't know exactly how to answer this question. This prompted me to dig deep into my love for reading and pinpoint exactly what makes it my favorite pastime.

I always feel more fulfilled after finishing a great book that I do after binge-watching a TV show on Netflix. Sometimes, reading feels like self-care, like therapy. When I consume a book, it becomes a part of me. When I recommend a book that I enjoyed to a close friend or relative, it feels almost as though I'm giving them a piece of myself.

Yes, reading certainly takes more energy and brain power than sitting in front of a TV. However, I promise you that the payoff is so, so much greater. When I walk away from a book I just finished, I am taking so much more substance along with me. A good book rarely leaves me the very same person I was when I began reading it. I walk away as a slightly changed and new person with new perspectives and ideas that I may have not previously taken into account.

I suppose that I'm also tied to books in a nostalgic sense. Some of my very oldest memories take place in libraries and bookstores. When I was a little girl, trips to the library were a ritual. We'd take out as many books as we could, read them over and over, and return them all for new ones the next week.

My parents used to read me three picture books each night before I went to bed. One of my favorites was Ludwig Bemelmans' Madeleine, and I knew it by heart before I even knew how to read. Years later, my dad and I still quote Madeleine back and forth to one another every chance we have.

When I got a little older, the three nightly picture books became three chapters of a larger book. I remember sitting on the floor with my mom, both of us sobbing, as we read the last few pages of Kate DiCamillo's The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.

I am a firm believer that the right book can change a person's life. I have read lines from books that seemed to understand me and the way I felt even more than I did. Some books have changed the way I saw certain aspects of life. I've felt some books unravel me completely and then put me back together. I read for that deep, comforting feeling of understanding that I'm not alone.

I realize now that reading isn't just some random thing that I enjoy. I love it for a very good reason: reading made me into the person that I am today. Books feel like home because my real home has always been filled with them. Books feel like love and warmth because I've shared countless wonderful stories with the people I love most. Books are my past, present, and future.

I am enamored with the way that humans are able to put precise feelings and vivid images into words so perfectly. This is one of the main reasons I love to write as well. I can only hope that one day, after filling my head and my heart with countless stories, I will be able to write my own.