Recently I was astonished to find that I, who only has a bachelor’s degree, might be more well-read than a colleague of the same age who already finished her doctorate studies.
When I asked why she doesn’t like to read, she simply replied, “I only like reading comic books.” Because I don’t really know her, I refrained from pushing any further.
Coming from someone who has a doctorate degree, this was almost unbelievable. I cannot comprehend the fact that someone can read journals and articles to support their studies and work, and yet not do the very same activity (reading) for the sake of edutainment. I’ve also found that most of my friends, save the readers and book bloggers community, do not think reading is essential.
What’s more astonishing, is that people can come up with 1001 excuses NOT to read. The classic examples include: “books are expensive”, “I don’t have the time”, “I get bored easily”, “I can’t read ‘heavy’ books”, and so on. Some even think that reading short (and mostly popular) articles on the Internet are enough. Well, it’s not. I believe it’s commonly agreed that we can’t trust everything on the Internet, and one way to test if it’s the truth is to read actual books. You know, books that have been through the process of research and editing.
I’m not saying that we should only read non-fiction. I am an avid reader of fiction myself, and I can say that reading fiction serves as a tool to exercise our empathy. Reading fiction makes us a better person. We might not share experiences with, say, poverty-stricken people, civilians of war, refugees, people with disabilities, or even people with power, etc., but through books (fiction and non-fiction), we are able to place ourselves in their shoes and imagine ourselves in their situation. This is the power that J.K. Rowling explained in Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination: that “We do not need magic to transform our world; we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”
Ever wonder why mansplaining is still a thing? Maybe, one of the factors is because many women are, in fact, not knowledgeable enough. Of course, knowledge knows not the word “enough”. The more you read and the more you learn, the more you will find out that there is so much more to read and learn from.
Please, educate that precious mind of yours. And I’m not talking about getting (back) to school. If you want to take a postgraduate course, then, by all means, do it, but keep in mind that education is so much more than attending classes and working on essays. It’s also what you make of it afterwards; it’s what you do to keep your brains fully functioning.
So, if today you still claim that you are a non-reader, please do yourself a favor and start making reading a way of life. You might save yourself from dementia and Alzheimer in later life. If you are already a reader but you limit yourself to certain genres only, please consider getting out of your (reading) comfort zone and start exploring.
Good books are like the stars in the sky: there are practically countless of them. If we don’t start now, then when? As Henry David Thoreau once said; “Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.”
Melisa Mariani is a non-academic staff in a university who likes to spend her free time reading and coloring. Her thoughts on books can be read on her book blog http://surgabukuku.wordpress.com.