Why Do I Read So Much?
If you’ve watched my We Need Change video (which has been on Youtube for three months now), you may have noticed something. I love books.
I’ve always been an avid reader. I started reading young with the Pokemon novels and other series such as The Magic Tree House. As I grew up my thirst for reading grew and I started devouring fantasy books like Harry Potter, Eragon and the Sword of Shannara. I loved fantasy and being transported into new worlds.
My love for reading took a whole new meaning as an adult when I started to read non-fiction books. Now reading wasn’t just about escaping reality anymore. It was about understanding reality.
Books are like treasure troves. Since the dawn of mankind, people have been seeking answers about life and the nature of things. Through the great invention of writing, thousands of hands have been recording the arcana of reality over the past couple of thousand years. One man in a lifetime cannot scratch the surface on his own of all that has already been learned before him. Most of what we know about the world is just the tip of the iceberg. We cannot fathom how much more there is to know below the depths of our ignorance. It’s only by raiding the tombs of knowledge that you will be able to discover what you did not know there was to discover.
And so I read. I followed my curiosity into the Heart of Darkness and came out discovering Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World. I have explored the Cosmos through words. I have teleported through history to the future leap frogging through time and space from mind to mind. That ability to transcend the bounds of the here and now is what makes books truly magic.
No one can say it better than the eloquent author and scientist Carl Sagan,
“What an astonishing thing a book is. It's a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you're inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”
Books allow us to share the thoughts of some of the most brilliant minds in history. You can gain access to the great scientific thoughts of Carl Sagan and Nikola Tesla, or learn from business masterminds such as Richard Branson and Ray Dalio, or be inspired by influential political figures such as Theodore Roosevelt and Ghandi, or acquire insight from the greatest philosophers from thousands of years ago such as Plato and Marcus Aurelius. Considering that Marcus Aurelius was one of the greatest emperors of all time, isn’t it mind blowing that we can read his book “Meditations” almost 2000 years after he wrote it and by reading it we can get direct access to his thoughts and wisdom!
By reading their books, all these amazing people are sharing their stories and thoughts directly with you. It’s a magically process where a writer has had thoughts and written those thoughts down on paper. Then you read their words and as you read them the voice in your head turns these written words into your thoughts. And so their thoughts become your thoughts. You are inside their mind! Or should I say they are inside yours? This remarkable melding of the minds is perhaps the most profound connection you can truly share with another person and even more amazing is the fact that it’s possible to share this connection through the epochs of time.
Although we might not be computers who can simply download information into our brains and have it completely memorized, by reading their books we have the potential to absorb some of their insight and perhaps ignite the spark of greatness in ourselves. As Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
That is the power of books. That is the power of the written word. To allow us to see further thanks to the insights of those before us and hopefully give us the capability to accomplish more.
From fiction to non-fiction, reading has been pivotal to my way of thinking. Fiction has developed my imagination and empathy. Non-fiction has expanded my understanding of the world. From stories both real and fantasy I have been inspired and been given the insights to navigate through life with a sense of confidence in myself. Probably the greatest thing I’ve learned from reading is how to cultivate a personal peace of mind in a world that is increasingly becoming more insane. Over one hundred books later, I’ve barely begun to get through the great library brought to being by the hands of humanity. I know there is still so much more for me to learn.
Thanks for reading. Stay curious!
The words of the Teacher,  son of David, king in Jerusalem:
"Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless."
What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?
Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course.
All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again.
All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which one can say, "Look! This is something new"? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.
There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow.
I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem.
I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men!
I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
What is twisted cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted.
I thought to myself, "Look, I have grown and increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge."
Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.
For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.