Why to beware while reading books
I am not trying to convince you stop reading books. This entry isn’t a reverse psychology’s way of trying to persuade you to read books either. Just have a beer with me while to bear with me.
I once read a manual on driving a manual gear car. Needless to say that I did not learn to drive that day. Reading involves only your eyes. Hence, nothing gets stuck in the head. I mean how am I supposed to taste the country air, feel the heart beat a little faster or know how much force I need to apply/brace for without having it done previously? Yeah, some sort of instructional reading is helpful and sometimes damned necessary, but it is the action which needs to be remembered in the end.
I personally think that people today read a lot. Almost 100x more than they need to. But has it ever helped anyone? I once ‘read’ a textbook on integral calculus (it was the part of curriculum). I looked at all the formulas, the tips, the secret techniques and the various methods to calculate the solution to a differential equation. What was the result? Well, I passed (it should not come as such big of a surprise), but I didn’t learn a single thing. When I had to do the same thing again in fourier series, I actually worked out the worked out examples and finally got what was meant by ‘separation of variables’. (If you didn’t get anything from the previous two lines, it’s not your fault, reading is very unreliable way of gathering information.)
Which brings me to my second point – the unreliable nature of reading. Reading is quite a passive activity. That is why it takes a very serious effort to read at a pace where you can comprehend the text as well as not let that monkey-brain wander away. Also don’t forget those authors who tend to say a thousand things in a few sentences. Worse are those who use the cryptic double nature of words. Like a blue curtain being the expression of his/her heartbreak. We have trouble enough trying to decipher the words at face value. Please don’t add more trouble by trying to write too much between the lines.
I can imagine the so called ‘bibliophiles’ and ‘avid readers’ who will disagree with me by saying that reading stimulates the imaginative, cognitive and the memory related part of the brain. They’ll even say reading is far more healthier than watching mindless TV. But this was never the subject of discussion. I completely agree with Mr. Ralph Waldo Anderson when he said one must be very careful about what books one reads. I can not remember the source but he said something along the lines of – all the good books were that which were already found on people’s shelves: the classics. He wasn’t opposed to reading, but he wanted to read all good books; not all the books. He even made a point not to read a book which was less than a year old. I have modified it to at least a good ten years.
One more point I was hoping to address was reading the wrong books. A book has the power to change your perspective, to seduce you, to question your beliefs or even shock you if you read them with a bit too open mind. One must read a book with utmost carefulness, for they have information that might damage your sanity. Read If librarians were honest and feel the loss of words to explain the truth in the poem. Maybe you should still think twice before opening that book.