Reading is a basic act. A rudimentary skill that, is arguably, a necessity for life. It is taught to us at an early age, up to a certain primary educational level. Then, it just stops. Once you have learned how to read, you are left to fend for yourself on reading homework, book reports, book essays, and every other reading-related schoolwork. This goes on and terribly on until you graduate from high school or college, even graduate school if you’re that smart. Reading has become second nature to us since the early years of our lives. But, has the importance of reading been taught to us?
The importance of reading in the sense of humanism, art, passion, of life itself. Has that ever been taught? Because, I know that the technical importance of why we read have already been taught to us from the years we were learning how to.
“Reading is important so that you may advance to the next year level, sweetie.”
“Read so that you may learn to pass the test.”
“Read a lot for you to answer your homework.”
“Reading is necessary for you to finish your paper.”
Read, read, read.
This is not to say that the population of readers around the world is significantly lower at this day and age of endless entertainment. Even with the dominance of streaming entertainment, where binge-watching is the most common way to absorb content, and the golden age of video games, where every device has its own library of wonderful, addicting games; no, even with those things becoming a part of our daily lives, people still read.
It doesn’t matter if you read from an actual book, an e-book, or an audiobook, if you’re reading, then well done. However, if you are one of those people who consume mind-boggling entertainment without mercy, and only read if it’s school-related, then this is for you.
Reading is the straightest way there is to an author’s soul. With reading, you enter a world of imagination, story, learning, history, and a plethora of other things that the author wants to express.
One of the most astounding things about books is that other than the direct message or story of the author, books are insightful relics into philosophical, political, social, and economic conditions of their author’s time, and those books continue to influence society long after their authors were gone.
In Philosophy, we have of course, Plato. His works, The Republic as one of the most famous, have started a period of intellectual revolution that we now classify as Ancient Political Philosophy. This kind of philosophy have become a standard of the succeeding political philosophies of the human race. Another political relic is John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government, in which he identified in his Second Treatise of Government the basis of a legitimate government. A major influence on many states, most notably the Founding Fathers of America.
A significant number of scientific books have also influenced and irrevocably changed our understanding of the world. One of the most famous and most controversial was Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, introducing the theory of evolution by natural selection, a not wholly new but still radical concept at the time it was published. It incited countless of debates within the scientific and religious world. Nonetheless, one thing is certain, this book fundamentally changed the world of science.
Some books have started a revolution, a warning against the many shapes of evil in this world. Where problems such as slavery, imminent totalitarian control of media and the private sphere, and the exploitation of the working class, all were brought to light. Numerous books have covered such problems but these three were at the forefront: Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, George Orwell’s 1984, and Karl Marx’s Das Kapital.
So many literary classics were filled with such artistic imagination and masterful narration that it incites questions of the different branches of morality that pervades our lives. These works are not just engaging and insightful, it also conjures a historic portal that brings to light the politics, culture, and way of life of the author’s country and fellow citizens. Homer’s Iliad and The Odyssey, William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and much more. These works are generally considered one of the greatest literatures of all time. Great stories interwoven with the authors’ perspective on the great and tragic events of their time are certainly worth the read.
Indeed, it is, considering the many events, great and terrible, that transpired because of books But, other than evoking emotions, books can also educate you, and help you become a better version of yourself. You are not the first person in the world to consider yourself as someone who doesn’t know too much, or doesn’t live too much; Nor the first person that wants to live a simple, peaceful, fulfilled life, or wants to live a fast-paced, busy, modern life. If you just don’t know how, fortunately, there are books for that.
Do you want to live a life filled with purpose and fulfillment without the superficial non-essentials of the modern world? Read philosophy. Particularly the philosophy of Stoicism: The art of having mastery over the mind and unaffected by outside events. It promotes a simple life of moderation.
Want to become a successful writer? Read plenty of books about the genre you wish to write about. Read your favorite authors’ biographies. Read books on how to write a book.
Aspiring to become a scientist? Then read educational books about the field you chose. Read about the lives of your fellow scientists. Read a ridiculous number of scientific journals to hone your scientific mind and spark your curiosity.
If you want to become a businessperson, a politician, a chef, and any other thing you want to be, well, you know what to do next. Books are always there for you. Always containing a specific amount of knowledge inside its pages. Only thing you have to do is open it and read.
You can learn more about the world through books. Books are magical portals. They take you inside the mind and wonderful imagination of the author. They can also portal you to a specific point of time and place in the history of the human race; and there, immerses you into the different lives of that time. Books can also transport you around the world, learning more about the beliefs, cultures, cuisine, politics, economy, and general way of life of the country you chose to read. Again, all you have to do is open it and read.
The most important thing that reading books give you, however, is a space of tranquil serenity. Reading transports you from the mortal plane to your very own magical plane. You are withdrawn from the outside world, where your body doesn’t recognize time and space; and, the only thing that is in motion during your brief period of respite, is your imagination.