I actually don’t like reading. It’s not fun, my mind wanders most of the time, and its hard to concentrate. So I find reading to be a bit of a chore. However, having said that, reading is perhaps the most potent activity that has has transformed the way I think and shaped my belief systems.
The book that really made me appreciate reading, was Prey by Michael Crichton. This guy is amazing. With that book, he became one of my favorite authors. This book was so exciting that every short chapter had a cliffhanger that compelled you to keep on reading. But what really did it for me, was that he was able to imbue that book with so much hard science that I learnt so many thought provoking things. As a nerd, this was the perfect! Great engaging story with amazing science. After that, I never looked at books the same again, and now I read consistently. Most of the books I have read, have never come close to capturing that thrill ride. But now I knew why books were so important.
Depth of People
Whenever you chat to someone for a short while, you never quite get to really know them or their beliefs. There’s always this persona that’s presented. You need to spend a long time with someone, under varying conditions to really get to know them. With books however, when someone commits their belief system or experiences to paper, you can really get to understand the depth of they who they are. They take time to explain their ideas and perspective. And you listen. You can’t talk back. A good example of this is Albert Luthuli’s “Let my people go”. Hands down, one of the greatest books I’ve ever read. The depth, nuance and dignity of this man was profound. His command of the English is second to none, and getting to explore his ideas through his book, is something amazing. Reading gives us that ability to have some real insight into someones beliefs, character and vision.
Nuance of Subject
We live in a world of complex ideas now. And all too often we fall into bias of over simplifying ideas. This inevitably leads us to missing subtleties that are important. I find this happens a lot with YouTube videos that are very short and oversimplify complex ideas, and don’t really give you an appreciation for the the subject matter. Books on the other hand, really explore subjects to a great degree, examining all facets of an idea, and then counterpointing one idea against another. This depth is Fantastic. One major advantage of this is that you develop critical thinking skills. Which we could all do more of these days.
Books bring about a rigorous study of the world, and with that comes a sense of awe and wonder of it; and that just talking about contemporary books. That really makes me wonder of all the amazing, insightful ideas that are hidden in the older books. I recall reading the autobiography of St Teresa of Avila which is a bit tedious to read, but nevertheless amazing. I’m not religious by any measure, however the insights around faith, dedication and prayer I found to be seriously enlightening. She presents information I’ve never seen anywhere else. This woman had so much faith, that the creator would consume her body and soul. Sounds fascinating, right!? Based on that small crumb of information I had to read the book. And the content opens your mind to things you’ve never considered around spirituality and how the world works. Books open your mind in ways you’ve never thought possible.
There are tons of books out there now. If we had a hundred lifetimes, we would never get through all of them. Books contain immersive knowledge that can only guide in positive way. We should all strive to read as many as possible