BY SOFO ARCHON
The written word, in a sense, transcends the limits of time. The thoughts of a person who passed away centuries or even thousands of years ago can be communicated to you today through the written word, and this is what makes reading books so special and important.
Imagine how many people have walked on Earth before you did. Think of how many have lived a life similar to yours. Realize how many had similar problems, worries, fears and desires to the ones you do. Millions of those people have written down their experiences and knowledge so that you can read their writings and benefit from them.
The importance of reading books is without doubt tremendous and one must be a fool to overlook it. However, before you can get the most out of reading books, you first need to know how to read books, and how not to, and here you’re going to learn the best and worst ways to read a book.
How to Read a Book
Be open to change. Reading a book can be a life-changing experience. You can start reading a book being one person and after you’ve finished it find yourself to be a whole different one. But in order for any change to happen in you, you first need to keep an open mind. While reading, leave your prejudices and ego aside and let the book communicate its true messages to you.
Doubt. To be open-minded does not mean not to doubt. In fact, doubting is the first step in the journey to knowledge — without it, you won’t go far. Doubting is healthy and necessary for your personal growth. Books don’t always contain truths and are never to be believed on the authority of the author–even more so if the author is best-selling! The fact that the author of a book might be famous or called an expert does not mean that what he or she writes is true, or that it can be applied to your life. So when you read a book, make sure to always use critical thinking and never take in anything on belief alone.
Enjoy. When we were children, we were usually not allowed to choose which books to read and when to read them. Others always chose the books for us and made us read them. As a consequence, most of us developed a hateful attitude toward books and reading. But now, as a mature adult, you can choose to read the books you truly want. When you go to a bookstore, don’t just pick any book; rather, find the ones that speak deeply to your mind and heart. Be sure not to read books that you don’t enjoy — unless, of course, if you are willing to waste your time.
How to Not Read a Book
Learn like a parrot. Most people do not read books because they are interested to truly benefit from them. Instead, they read them to acquire as much information as they can from them, just so they can repeat what they have learned in a parrot-like fashion to others, with the sole purpose to appear intelligent and authoritative. Those people are involved in an egoistic game which reminds me of school children who memorize their lessons just to get better grades and make a good impression on their teachers and parents. Such people not only try to fool others, but also themselves, by believing that they are smart and special individuals. In reality, they are just silly and shallow.
Don’t allow yourself to be moved. There are books that can move us deeply, but not many of us allow this to happen, and that’s for various reasons, with one being that a book can bring to the surface of our consciousness many unwanted emotions and thoughts, so we tend to suppress them. For example, there are many men who don’t find it “right” to be moved, thinking that it is not manly to be moved and cry. But until you let a book stir your very being, you will not truly understand it and fully benefit from it.
Force yourself to read. From a very young age, we have been taught to force ourselves to read books for some ulterior purpose. We have been taught to read in order to pass exams, get a degree, find a job, be smarter, and so on. But there is a simple rule in life: force yourself to do anything and it will not make you happy. Reading a book by force will not let you get the most out of reading — on the contrary, it will keep you focused on that future end you have in mind, which won’t allow you to be absorbed in and enjoy the process of reading itself.