Reading is good and bad. Reading is a car. A vehicle we use to navigate life. The speed in which we read dictates how fast we can drive. The speed in which we can understand dictates how accurate the steering is. The place we are going is dictated by the book we choose to read.
Are cars bad? They are unsafe because they can lead to accidents which lead to deaths and injuries. Books can instill dangerous ideas which leads to accidents which leads to death and injury.
Why Reading Is Good
We all know reading is good. Your teachers made it a point to drill that into your head. Some of you have been reading all your lives. From the tender age of two when you learned your abcs to now.
Others have discarded books seeing it as an ancient outdated medium. They are much more content consuming content from YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.
They understand that information is plentiful and see the steep investment that a book is. They realize that reading isn’t nessacary and that think their lives are better off without it.
You are wise. You see the benefit of reading, you see the barrier of entry and kneel before it. You thank the heavens that your habit isn’t inherited by the meek and lazy yet yearn for the day that all open their arms and embrace it. You know your road is right and can’t wait for me to affirme it.
You are stroking your nonexistent beard with trembling hands letting a drop of coffee sear onto your dark denim jeans. I will give you what you want. I will tell you you are right.
Reading Will Give You A Bigger Vocabulary
This is by far the biggest reason given to you to read. Don’t you feel good when you say a word that others don’t know. When you use ephemeral instead of brief and no one knows what you mean. You giggle to yourself and look at them engraving that lost confused look onto your mind.
If for nothing else you do it for the troll factor.
Yet english teachers will lead you to believe that reading books leads to an amazing expansive educational process that leads to a huge vocabulary. I mean it does. It expands your vocabulary the same way steroids expand your muscles. Your vocabulary become big and stocky until it reaches a point in which it is too stocky too imposing and the casual person looks onto you with fear instead of reverence.
You will reach a point in which you like how big your vocabulary is. Where you are satisfied. You will be able to read most books and know ninety-eight percent of the words.
A big vocab is like math. No one likes it but you do it because you need it to do the thing you really like. Once you have it you can read books that you can never read before. You can have conversations with certain people and not make a fool of yourself.
To some people that is the main reason. They have build their vocab for other people. Their vocab is like their abs. Their flashy and big but no real strength to it. A vocab by itself is useless. It is you recognizing and using a big old list of words.
Before I go too off the chain I want to recenter and focus on all the good things linked with a big vocab. The one thing I want to emphasize is that a strong vocab will let you write better.
I see this in my writing. I am living breathing proof. After reading casually for a decade you will have a wide array of words that you can use. You will read a sentence once and have an instinctive feeling whether or not it is good.
Your writing will sound and look better than a non reader because you are emulating the writers from which you have read. The fundamental principles of writing don’t change and the best way to learn writing is to read and write.
You read so that you see all the ways in which you can push your writing. All the different paths you can go down. If writing is war than reading is strategizing. One help you win the war one wins you the war.
Reading Will Expose You To New Ideas
Reading exposes you to new ideas. Most people aren’t original. It is very difficult for the human mind to come up with completely new and novel ideas and concepts but we are good at combining two old ones.
Go ahead try to prove me wrong. Create 10 completely original ideas in the next minute that isn’t the combination of two pre-existing things. If you struggled don’t worry it is normal for me to be right.
When we read we are seeing things through the lenses of the author. Their voice is what is echoing in our ears and sometimes we like that voice. We may like it because it sounds like ours or maybe because they are exhibiting a trait we aspire to have and thus we are drawn to their works.
It is unavoidable thought that the author differs from us in someway. They value at least one thing that we don’t and this difference is where the growth happens. You are challenged by that belief and that is where you either throw it away because it is false or accept it because it is real. What usually happens if you are being rational is that you put it in the examine category. Also known as the google this category.
A couple of years ago I was reading about nutrition. When it comes to nutrition I thought I was competent. Healthy just meant getting in your vitamins and making sure my body worked properly. Than I bought a book called how not to die. In it the author claimed that animal products have been linked to many harmful diseases.
Like many americans I have been eating meats all my life. To think that the treasure on my plate was stealing my life was absurd so my gut reaction was to reject it. To throw it out by claiming that everyone eats it and the average life expectancy is seventy-eight.
Yet I couldn’t stop myself from researching further. Getting something like this wrong could take away years from my life and so the search ensued. My search wouldn’t have been possible without reading. Without exposing myself to the ideas and thoughts of others.
You must be wary however there are many voice that will only confuse you. They will strip you of your clarity and whip your sense of direction. This type of person will make a claim like all the rest but will not be able to give you any evidence whatsoever. But their conviction will be infectious and you will question yourself. The best solution is to distance yourself.
Reading Will Make You Learn Better
Book are great for learning. You know this, I know this. Most people turn to book only for this purpose and that is a shame. Books can entertain and convince. They are a great medium and only using them for learning is a waste.
Let me explain leverage. Leverage is using something to make something else easier. Take a house for example. You can build it by hand brick by brick. From design to resources to construction. You can do all of that by yourself.
You can go to the dry sun baked dirt and with your callused hands scoop up the dirt. You can struggle to mix them trying to figure out how to make bricks. You can try to sustain yourself with the occasional rabbit praying that it doesn’t hear you stomping around.
Or you can hire an architect and builder. You are leveraging your money to get a house. The result is the same but the process is so much different.
When you read you tap into the minds of either the ancient and dead or the living and soon to be dead but both groups have taken the time to create a work that records the best way to get something done.
These man/women have usually spent a lengthy time both reading and applying by using trial and error to reach the conclusions that are written on your ten dollar paperback. (Isn’t it funny that you use paper to get even more paper that is called a paperback.)
Thus you leverage their experience and good judgement to get whatever it is you want done. That leveraging lets you perform on a level much higher than the one you are on now.
The best example of this that comes to my mind is that of the young artist. Young in the sense that he hasn’t been drawing long. He can either go to his three used color pencils and hope to make something splendid or go on youtube and watch as someone else’s hand blazes over the canvas creating sonic booms with each majestic swipe of their pen. In that video the artist talks about what they are doing explaining in good detail why they are doing what they are doing and hopefully allowing others to do as they do.
If he where to spend 2 hours following that video his creation would be infinitely more skillful than if he spent that same time trying to craft and image on his own. The difference between the two drawing is leverage. One he leveraged the skills of others and one he didn’t.
Reading gives you this power and if you fail to use it you cripple yourself.
When someone is a novice they can’t tell good work from bad. They look at a piece of art and all the see are scribbles of lines. They see the parts but the whole eludes them. They are like the monkeys who looks at the sky but fails to see. When monkeys look at the sky bright lights greet them when you look at the sky you see the beautiful stars and the luminous moon.
In any field there is a bell curve. Their are people who are average, people who are good and people who are bad. Than their are people who are beyond good there skill makes them an expert. All who wish to learn go to them. These man and women are the true high performers.
When you read a book by them you will see what high performance looks like. They will show you what you should look for. They will explain to you why you should do this and not that. Why you should hone in one this particular skill and practice it until you hit a certain point. All that and more they can explain to you.
This knowledge is of use to you. You want it because by understanding what you want you can create a plan to get it. Without that understanding it is all but impossible to get it. I want you to think of any skill set.
In your research the very first thing you should try to find is what exactly does high performance look like. You need to learn the answer to this because without knowing what high performance looks like how can you aim for it.
As a novice you will realize you are bad. This will inspire you to want to be good but without knowing what good look like you will not see a path. You will become overwhelmed and like a rock you will sink. You will drown in the ocean not knowing that a simple boat would have saved you. You may blame the heavens for being cruel. You may blame yourself for being soft but it is neither cruelety nor softness that have lead you to failure. It is your inability to grasp that which you wish to become.
High performance is usually a jumble of habits that work in harmony to produce the performance. Each is unique and each you must perfect, if there is a weak link in that chain than you will shatter when it comes time to perform. Rage will become your friend because ignorance is your companion.
The point I am trying to make is that to become a high performer you must know what it looks like. Than you can see what you are doing wrong and than make a path to doing right. This is what reading offers. It gives you this specific knowledge and by using it you gain that which you want. Skill.
Reading Will Make You More Valuable
By reading your increasing your domain of knowledge. What a vague sentences, let me be clear; by reading you become a more valuable person. Most books you pay for which means that the book in of itself has some value to some person. By consuming that book you now have that knowledge and so become a proxy in which to acquire it. So reading increases your value in some way.
The above example is me setting the groundwork for the arguments that I am going to make. I want to make sure that in the first paragraph I showed you how reading anything will make you more valuable, now I want to focus on how reading can make you exponentially more valuable.
What is human capital. One definition I have found is that human capital is the quantification of the economic value of a workers skill set. For all of you not in the know all that means is that human capital is how much value you can generate with your skills and education.
We put a huge emphasis on college and education here in the west. We tell our children to learn and get a degree. To increase their human capital by going to school and become qualified by the school.
A degree is in its’ most basic sense is a college vouching for you. It tells the world that you know this particular subject well and you can leverage that to get a good paying job.
It isn’t the degree that is valuable but the skills. A degree is just like money, a bill in of itself is worthless but what it represents is valuable. When you go to college they try to impart a specific amount of information about a specific thing. When this becomes ingrained in you and you can use it then you become more valuable.
In the marketplace aka the economy a worker is valued by his skills, experience and how well he can communicate with those who are around him. Their are also other factors that go into a workers value but by the far the easiest to measure and one of the most impactful is skill.
Most well paying job are kept behind a fence. To jump over that fence you will need a skill. Something that other people find valuable but at the same time you have a talent for. In college they teach you about that particular skill.
Reading lets you gain those very skills without having to make the upfront investment in a mentor. The reason being that the book lets you acquire the information you need to take action.
If you were given the rules for soccer than told to play against a beginner team how well would you do. Most of the time you would falter and fall on your face. Humans learn through trial and error. First hand experience can teach us a lot if we are keen enough to listen.
The point being that their are aspects of every skill that are purely informational and other aspects that are purely practical. For example learning to drive. Learning about all the signs and what they mean,, how to share the road, tickets, speeding, right of way and all the other things that you need to know to drive are purely informational. They are best learned through a book rather than a trial and error because to ingrain this kind of information you will need repetition and revision two things that you can’t afford when driving.
Yet no amount of reading will tell you how to properly parallel park in a reasonable amount of time. You can watch one hunderand videos and read one hundred books. You will still be thinking too much behind the wheel and the person who practiced through trial and error will be faster.
Reading lets you learn information much faster than other means by letting you reread a passage many times. Since understanding the informational part of any skill is critical to learning said skill reading is necessary for increasing your human capital and thus making you richer.
That is my long winded way of saying that reading is needed to make your wallet fatter.
Common Pitfalls Of Reading AKA Disadvantages
Reading Makes You Slow
Reading takes away your momentum. In general the more of something you have the more of something you get. Money makes more money and winning makes you win more. The more you win the more people fear you and the worse they perform. You will believe you are good because you are a winner which will make you win more.
This is a circular cycle that feeds on itself and reading breaks that cycle.
When you read you take a step back and become consumed by another world. By reading your mind sits down and listens as it is spoken to. This is you retreating from the world. By retreating you by definition give.up any momentum you may have had.
When you resort to reading you admit that their is a critical piece of information that you don’t have. In order to get it you sacrifice any action and stall until you have gotten what you want out of the book.
When you are in the process of reading you don’t want to act. You are like a golem in a pitch black cave waiting for the sun to come up. While he waits misquotes fest on his blood and his feet are sore from all the standing but like a spider he waits.
The most painful consequence of losing your momentum is not acting.
Between the time you open a book with the aim of getting the information and the time you close the book having gotten that information is the period of time you don’t act. Put simply while you are reading you aren’t acting.
In that state you may fall prey to a condition known as paralysis by analysis. In which you don’t act because you don’t think you have the information you need so you go and study even harder. Study is nice and safe. It is comfy and warm. It is the soft enticing pillow that embraces your head..
Study is useless without action. We study to take action but sometimes we use study like an excuse forgetting that it is a means not an end. There is no end to study. Study is a tool and like any tool it can be overused and misused. Some will use a hammer to open a house. They will smash down the door never using the key that lies within their pocket.
Readers more than any other group are people who value study. Maybe too much. I am not asking you to forsake reading but to balance it with the appropriate action. As a reader your first instinct when confronted with a problem is to read about it.
To gain more info about that specific problem so that you can address it. You don’t go head first into the problem you take a step back and retreat before you come and attack with precision.
There are times when this approach works wonderfully. If you are facing something that has high impact and you have time than this approach is perfect. But if you are facing something of low impact than rarely will this approach be efficient.
Time is a luxury that you don’t always have. Their will be days when you are pressed against a wall and you must act on the limited info that you have. Although the example I gave is extream the core essence of the point is not.
For most things it is best to start immediately and learn as you go. Rather than being stuck trying to learn without doing. It would be as futile as learning to fight from a book.
Imperfect action is better than perfect inaction.
Act or Be Destroyed By InAction
Reading Is Diluted
Good books are hard to come by. Either they have good information or they are well written finding that book that is both is like trying to find the best blend of salt of sugar. Their is an over abundance of books nowadays.
In every bookstore and library we are greeted by hundreds of books by different authors. Each at differing points in their career. As the reader you can either sift through the many different tomes and try to find a golden egg.
Their is a joy to that. A thrill of discovery that is a pleasure all of its own. The satisfaction you feel when you discover an obscure author who is speaking to you in their work. They may be solving a problem that you are currently facing or have you as their ideal reader but one way or another you are the perfect match to this book.
What usually happens however is that people turn to other people with more experience and ask them for advice on what to read next. The first problem I have with this method is that you will not find books that are perfect for you.
When you are browsing in a bookstore you have a filter. Through that filter thousands of books go. There are probably hundreds of books you put back on the shelf because you didn’t like the first paragraph on the blurb.
This filter will guide you to great books if you are new to section/genre/category. The more book you read the less books there are to find. Yet when you find a great book it will be worth the cost. It will be worth the investment of a couple of hours.
Reading Is Done Wrong
Whenever I mention reading in this passage I have assumed that you are reading instructional/educational material pertaining towards a particular skill/pursuit. Their are different types of books.
Their is fiction. Now is reading fiction bad? No. It is good and bad. What makes it one and not the other is the purpose.
If you wish to learn some skill than reading fiction is bad with one big exception writing. If you wish to learn the english language than read fiction. If you want to see the kind of magic you can create with words than read fiction. Vocab is also built by reading fiction.
There is one habit that will take away all these things though. Reading the same comfy books that are at your same reading level by sub par authors. This will strip your reading habit of all benefit and make it as self serving and indulgent as the tv junkie.
I know you do it because it is so easy to do. Comfort reading is a hand that reach towards you and by the time you realize it has gripped you eons have passed. You usually read these books because of the profound emotional impact that they have.
The type of book depends on the type of story that you need to hear about. If you are lonely and weak reading about epic heroes who get all the girls and are respected by the whole town can get you off then because of the high that you received reading that book you chase down other
This is a hole that you must be wary of. When you read you will often be drawn to books that fill an emotional need. Don’t let fiction become that crutch. Deal with your problems by going to the root don’t put weak bandages on them.
Nonfiction vs Fiction
You should read fiction because it makes you feel good. It is an experience. An unlike any other medium books are by far the most diverse when it comes to stories. Think about your favorite TV show.
Why did you like it? Was it the characters, the plot or maybe the witty dialogue. I know you tried hard to find similar shows. Shows that made you feel that again. You went to google and searched for all of 10 minutes only to find that the most similar shows were too different.
In books that really doesn’t happen. There’s always another book that is similar enough to be attractive but different enough to be exciting. It is not always easy to find but one exists. That I can promise.
Fiction is cheap. For the most part reading fiction isn’t an expensive hobby. Ten dollars a book is what you can expect to pay for an eight hour plus experience. If that isn’t a bargain I don’t know what is.
If you finish a work by an author I think that you should take the time to go to amazon and order their book. That ten dollars is the tip you leave for the author.
You read nonfiction so that you can gain something. It can be skill a mental map of a specific domain or maybe even enjoyment. For the most part reading nonfiction wouldn’t increase your vocab.
Writers of nonfiction aren’t like other writers. They aren’t polishing their prose producing pristine publications. They write so that you can learn something and improving means writing in as simple as possible while not forsaking accuracy. You can jump around in their books because each section is self contained. You get what you want and then you can press the eject button.
I sat out to do a fair comparison between the pros and cons of reading. As you can see this article is anything but fair. Coming up with varying yet true points was taxing especially for the cons section.
After reading this you should know that reading is good. I stand with the english teachers and the general populous on this one. If you wish to dispute my points get on your knees and go below.
For my marvaloes fans I want you to have an especially bad day.