Today the American Library Association's posters have employed Denzel Washington to encourage kids to read. But how many of these students really buy the message?
I recently spoke with a junior who was stressed about her decreasing ability to focus on anything for longer than two minutes or so. I tried to inspire her by talking about the importance of reading as a way to train the brain. I told her that a good reader develops the same powers of concentration that an athlete or a Buddhist would employ in sport or meditation. "A lot out there is conspiring to distract you," I said.
She rolled her eyes. "That's your opinion about books. It doesn't make it true." To her, the idea that reading might benefit the mind was, well, lame.
This totally misses the point of books, at least non-entertainment books, they are a short cut to learning. Those posters are propaganda and obvious propaganda too. We don't live long enough to recreate all the thought out there and most of those thoughts were wrong anyway.
It is not unusual for an author of a book to work on a problem for 20 years, wasting lots of time on false ideas and dead end theories and then writes a book that filters out all the bad stuff and leaves just the best stuff for us to use to get to the next level.
" If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants." -Isaac Newton
Those giants were only able to leave books behind so that others could continue the work.
A book will condense a lifetime of work into something that you can read in a matter of hours or days.
How valuable is that? I read about people that do time management who recommend taking 2 minute showers instead of 7 minute showers to save time. That's pretty good but it is like clipping coupons or buying in bulk, sure they save some money but it is better to buy a good used car and save thousands of dollars in one fell blow then to clip hundreds of coupons over years. If I can condense 20 years, 5 years, or even just 1 year of research into something I can read in a matter of hours how much better is my life? How much further can I go? If I read just 4 books that condense 20 years of research into a weeks worth of reading I have saved an entire lifetime.
What is that worth to you?
That is what is so important about reading and books.