Sunday, November 18, 2012

What You Don't Know is the Reason

Adam C. Zern expresses his conviction on why we should read:

"A Lost Lady was my 300th book.  At times, I am immensely pleased at that number and other times it causes me little pride.  I've been on this earth for 27 years.  How could I have read only 300 books?  My insecurity in what I haven't read comes from my own intimate knowledge of my deeply felt ignorance.  However, considering the reading habits of most people, I can't help but feel justified in a little self-congratulation since I've made reading a priority in my life.

And why isn't reading a priority for so many others?  I was recently speaking with a co-worker and she expressed the common refrains of why someone doesn't read, such as: it's boring, I can't remember what I've read, I don't have any time, etc.  Yet, as is almost always the case, she expressed her wish that she did read and her personal conviction that she should read but doesn't.  I gave some encouragement, told her getting into a reading habit is similar to establishing any other kind of habit, and provided a title of a book (it happened to be The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom) I guessed she might find interesting, based on her admitted interests.  I hope she reads it, and I hope the act becomes habitual.

What we don't know—that's what should drive us to read.  And that shouldn't limit us to reading non-fiction.  The little-p prophets of literature have provided insights into mankind, society, and philosophy (among other things) in a more poignant fashion than most non-fiction books I have read.  (I just wish more contemporary authors actually wrote literature and not the self-absorbed and dank nonsense they do).  I talk to so many who don't read and subsequently don't know so much.  Reading fills you up, not with useless facts and figures (although I suppose it could if you limit your reading to only the useless books variety), but with ideas, perspectives, and thoughts.  You have something to talk about when you read and that something is usually pretty important.

When so many don't know or can't talk about it, whatever 'it' happens to be at the moment, and I'm not referring to our mostly barren pop culture, I hope more people would take the time to read.  I don't remember a single person who has ever said: 'I really regret taking the time to read.'  On the other hand, I've heard plenty of people say in plenty of ways how they regret not reading or taking so much time doing things that aren't reading.  What you don't know, which is, oh, so very much, should drive you to read.  That is exactly what has driven me, and with 300 books clattering around in my brain I'm convinced I've got a long, long way to go."

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