204 - The Joy of Books
A little while ago I was talking with a young lad who told me he wanted to go to university to study philosophy. I was impressed at his high-falutin’ pursuit of wisdom and understanding – love or seeking of Truth so asked him whose ideas resonated most with him, and who his rock-star philosopher would be.
His answer floored me.
“I’ve never read anything about philosophy” he told me.
“Huh?!?!?!?” says I.
He’s talking about spending 3 to 4 years of his life at university studying something he can’t even be bothered to crack open a book to explore.
I really wanted to figure this out – he’s a bright lad, very sharp and from a highly supportive family. How was it possible he was ready to run up a massive student debt, potentially waste years of his precious time and pass up a ton of local opportunities to work, earn and learn – all in the name of, well, what exactly?
His reasons are his own, and I suspect they have a lot to do with escaping from under mum and dad’s feet and gaining more autonomy – perhaps even some structure to an over-indulged life - not forgetting the “culture” if i can call it that – of drinking, sex, partying and the like which are the backdrop to uni life.
I get it.
I don’t get the not reading thing though. Not at all.
Show me the books you’ve read this year and the audiobooks you’ve listened to – and I’ll pretty much predict how your next five years will go. I’m no clairvoyant, but it’s a pound to a pinch of chinaman’s poo that if you’re reading up on business and finance you’re going to do much better than someone who is reading books about military history or flower arranging.
Let’s say you read a book a week, plus another one a week when on holiday, when on holiday for a fortnight – that’s a staggering 54 books per year. Now, if you’ve read 54 books about anything you’re going to be pretty clued-up about it...
I’d contend that those 54 books will give you far more insight and understanding than a university course in the same field.
Now imagine how much further ahead you’d be if you read like that for three years – 162 books... and add to that the obligatory “gap year” - 216 books read.
216 different opinions and modes of expression...
Immersion over four years... what would that do for my young friend?
It’s often said that “someone who can read but fails to do so has no advantage over someone who cannot read” – and it’s true. I’d put it more bluntly... “someone who can read but neglects to do so is intentionally ignorant and therefore doomed to remain at the level of what they last read or learned.”
If you haven’t cracked a book since school... where are you now?
If you’re reading regularly, what are you reading?
Another friend reads the sort of dark, disturbing crime fiction where seemingly everyone is a psychopathic killer-in-waiting; where abduction, rape, torture and murder are everyday occurrences... guess what – she has trouble sleeping and has frequent nightmares!
No shit, Sherlock.
I suggested she read something more jolly, positive and uplifting... I don’t know if she ever did read my suggested books, but I doubt it – they clash with her distorted world view ( not that my own world view is in any way undistorted – I just like mine better than hers, and I’ve read a bunch of books to prove it!!
So let’s cut to the bottom line – in short: show me your library and I’ll show you your future.
What book do you tell everyone about, share with those rare people you deem worthy of it?
Let me know what you think...
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The Thursday Thesis shares ideas which I think are worth spreading.
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