Why Do You Read?

Zat Rana makes a provocative argument that people read to memorize or critique in his short essay on “There are Two Ways to Read–One of Them Is Wrong.”  People learn either of these two reasons in school.

This works in school, and it teaches in its own way, but unfortunately, when reading in the real world, this kind of mindset cheats us out of knowledge

Perspective is needed to achieve the real joy of reading. “The only filter worth having is the one that distinguishes between what is relevant and what is not; what matters and what doesn’t.”

Now, having the focus to absorb what you need is critical and so is having a filter in place to detect if what you’re reading is factually wrong.

That said, anytime you read something with the mindset that you are there to extract what is right and what is wrong, you are by default limiting how much you can get out of a particular piece of writing. You’re boxing an experience that has many dimensions into just two.

Reading puts you into a different mode of reality.

By diving into the minds of some of the greatest thinkers and storytellers, it moves us into realms of reality that would otherwise stay unknown to us. We often walk out a good book with a new pair of eyes, and we can then use these eyes to create a better world around us, if we so choose.

Zat Rana makes the argument that civilization only progressed because things have been written down. Each generation does not have to start from scratch because previous generations wrote down things they had learned and passed them on to future generations.  He ignores civilizations with strong oral histories. Early Greek and Roman, Indian, and Native American cultures all had a strong oral history tradition of passing on information.

He also does not address that some people like to read because they find it enjoyable.  They don’t read for knowledge or because it’s a classic or a best seller.  The story is reason enough to pick up the book and finish it.

6 thoughts on “Why Do You Read?”

  1. I agree there should be more emphasis on reading for pleasure – which also teaches us things and opens our eyes to other lives and worlds as a by-product anyway. That’s an interesting point about the oral tradition – perhaps it’s fair to say that stories are what’s important, not just reading stories.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment Kally. I would guess you are a reader by the depth and breadth of your blog topics. Reading is such an easy trip to take and it takes me to place I may otherwise never get (even the places that theoretically are possible.)

      Liked by 1 person

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