From an article in the December 2008 Atlantic Monthly about why teen girls love vampires:
The salient fact of an adolescent girl’s existence is her need for a secret emotional life – one that she slips inot during her sulks and silences, during her endless hours alone in her room, or even just when she’s gazing out the classroom window while all of Modern European History, or the niceties of the passÃ© composÃ©, sluice pasat her. This means that she is a creature designed for reading in a way no boy or man, or even grown woman, could ever be so exactly designed, because she is a creature whose most elemental psychological needs – to be undisturbed while she works out the big quetions of her life, to be hidden from view while still in plain sight, to enter profoundly into the emotional lives of others – are met precisely by the act of reading.
I don’t agree with the gendered conclusion she comes to, but I thought it was a nice description of reading, especially of reading novels, especially when you’re a child or young teenager. At least it described me somewhat, right down to the passÃ© composÃ© (which I did manage to pick up, eventually).
I remember reading a theory once that young female readers figure out how to masturbate sooner than their peers, exactly because they’re used to & look forward to time alone.