The Joy Of Reading
Is there no greater achievement in the pages of human history than that of the written word? Without text and the eternal wisdom contained therein man would still be hibernating inside those delicate walls that shelter illiteracy, crippled by the dark recesses of his poor memory. Reading gives rise to the inspiration and creative surges needed for every discovery civilization has had or ever will have. It is the dark squiggle of alphanumerics strung together as sentences, composed into paragraphs and bound into books that offer the quintessential form of cerebral enlightenment.
Books are a very special thing. The study of science and investigation, of philosophy and art, of music and mathematics are condensed into clear form and presented with a peculiar beauty found only in literature. The consumption of books has an indescribable power to ignite the alchemy of the human mind, transporting it across space and time, metamorphosing its own conscious awareness into the life of another and seeing the world through their eyes. The happy consequence compounds the mind’s cleverness with experiences of men far greater and more competent than any of our current selves. Lost between the pages, we feel experiences differently, learn of new realms and acquire new knowledge our naivety would never have known otherwise, and after the book is put down, we return to reality slightly changed.
A reader lives a thousands lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.
Reading with attentiveness is by itself the most potent cure for the overriding tenet the human mind contracts at birth: ignorance.
No person should let their self be anchored to the mooring of inflexible thought. Books are the best provisions a man can take with him as he sets sail on life’s endless ocean searching for those yet to be discovered truths. The rich diversity of reading sharpens the faculty of judgement, hones it like Masamune blades and gives us an edge to cut through the cornucopia of hysteria and misinformation that bombards our senses every day.
Reading requires no heart-pounding effort and yet the seemingly simple task affects the mind like exercise to a body.
- Reduces stress. Reading for pleasure is more effective at calming the mind than conscious breathing techniques, listening to music or even drinking a cup of herbal tea.
- Comprehension. Reading actual books versus digital text facilitates better mental reconstructing when recalling the information later.
- Sensory reading. Embodied cognition research shows that reading textual metaphors can have a physical affect on the human body which might provide an additional reason as to why some scientists believe reading as having evolved the human mind.
- Improved ethics. Seeing the world through other perspectives can improve ethical and empathetic skills. Besides becoming more literate, children who are taken to libraries frequently grow into better adults.
- Academics. It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. The fact is well established how more books at home and more trips to the library will result in smarter students and better people.
- Imagination. Books force the reader to build narratives of sight, sound, and smell inside their head. And so the bookworm becomes more imaginative and creative than those flaccid spectators sitting in front of televisions.
Surely the scholarly ecstasy attained through an enquiring mind searching for mental sustenance improves the brain in profoundly curious ways. Indeed, the benefits of reading are too numerous to ignore but we should also have an equal concern for the consequences of not reading.
You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.
The role model for Western cultures is a monopath, the narrow-minded, one track, super specialized bore who has no other interests than to advance his or her career down a one way road in the endless pursuit of profit or power. It’s one of several unfortunate symptoms in our extreme division of labor accompanying this disease called capitalism.
Books will expand a person’s mind to see all that is and all that could be. Because of this alone, reading populates the world with more polymaths, eclectic individuals cross-fertilized with vast amounts of accumulated knowledge spanning numerous disciplines. Da Vinci, Montaigne, Goethe, Franklin, Asimov, Chomsky, and Jobs to name a select few. The advantage with polymathic endeavor is unparalleled innovation through problem solving skills stemming from the sagacious awareness of seeing the unseen interconnectedness.
So always have unread books in the queue. Never stop reading. Doing so would suffocate the mind’s natural investigative urges for pedantic exploration. The wonderful world of books provides the ideal activity for advancing culture and creating better human beings. To read and to learn is an experience meant to be savored by one and all.
The question of what to read is always put forth by the uncultivated. Just go out and discover authors who hold their reader fast with intoxicating splendor, whose writing is felt like a spiritual embrace. Bear in mind, however, the most tragic fact of life is the lack of hours in a single lifetime to read all the books one would like.
How To Read Every Book You’ve Ever Wanted
Naturally, not all books are worth reading, but even so, far too many fascinating volumes are left on the shelf, and still a greater number left undiscovered because Time is a son-of-a-bitch. How does a lover of the printed word find the time to read all those hidden gems?
Out of pure curiosity, an evolutionary biologist by the name of Dr. Michael Rose experimented with selective breeding of the Drosophila Melanogaster fruit flies in the 1970s. By discarding eggs and only allowing females to breed once they reached a target age, the flies who could still breed in their maturity passed their genes on to the next generation. This intentional delay to reproduce coaxed these bothersome little insects into living twice as long as their ordinary brethren. The subjects became known as the Methuselah Flies and were shown to have greater resistance to infectious diseases as well.
The same experimentation could be performed on people to arrest natural selection and finally take control of aging. Man’s endless search for the fountain of youth is found within his own genetic potential. But would such a thing be ethical? By today’s values certainly not, even though this Darwinism is exactly how the human species has evolved over the past 20 million years since our departure from our nearest animal relatives, the great apes. Selective breeding and consciously controlling our evolution would be a rather clever solution to the chimera of longevity.
However, despite this all-natural way for humans to advance the species beyond its current physical and intellectual limitations, the biological means to old age will probably come in the form of cultured tissue and organs implanted into the body as replacement parts while we keep our genetic defects and surrender to the ethical values of our time. But imagine the number of books that could be acquired and read if the human lifespan were extended 200 years or more! Where would we even put all of those books?
A Library In Every Home
Every home should have its own quiet library to leave discord and idle chatter behind in the peaceful search for literary bliss. Enclosed within the space of this sacred room, the entire history of the human spirit could be condensed into the elegant form of perfectly bound hardcovers standing shoulder to shoulder on shelves reaching up to the ceiling and spanning the surrounding walls.
Elegant lamps would stand over leather sofas and reading chairs to illuminate the pages with a soft, yellow glow. And if the lack of bookshelves permit, large paintings would decorate the walls as lavish furnishings to create a well-to-do atmosphere of sophistication. The home owner would take a special pride in the cultivated refinement further drawn from such an inspirational abode. No expense should be spared in the construction of the finest room in your home. The return on investment would be more than worth it.
A room without books is like a body without a soul.
There will always be a place for real books, even in a digitized world. Without question, books feel natural in the hand, their physical construction and the printed pages bound tightly have a dignity and authority that is eternal. How can a living, breathing person not be aroused by the mere sight of exquisitely published hardbacks?
Any lover of books should see the value in demanding they all be published in the same quality and style offered by the Folio Society. To my knowledge, there is no higher form of the printed word than what comes off the Folio Society’s press – beautifully crafted, highly imaginative editions of the world’s finest literature, many containing delightful illustrations and superb typography. Because anything less than perfect is unacceptable.
Looking at the world of today, it’s a shame to see the average person’s existence shrivel like dehydrated fruit to where the essence of their entire self-worth is defined in the small aperture question of “What do you do?” Our library, nurturing imaginative purposefulness, would become the means to a whimsical self-salvation after the joy of reading is at last realized.