READ MORE!? READ MORE. Read more. That’s my answer to every single person I know who struggles. Those who struggle with issues of identity, what it means to be an adult, what it means to be human. Read more! I think. Always. I keep these thoughts to myself. Because to tell a person who isn’t in the habit of reading to read more is as useful as telling someone who isn’t in the habit of playing video games to game more. And no one likes to be told what to do.
And if they were to ask me “why?” what succinct answer could be given to the benefits of reading? How could I tell them in a way that makes them think, Yes, I will read more. And then do it?
So you see, this is my conundrum. Today. Right now. How shall I explain why anyone, and most everyone, should read more. Are bullet points in order? Titled paras? Perhaps one long list separated by semi colons?
Or just keep going as I am.
Reading is what gives us perspective. And without perspective we are lost to ourselves and the social constructs that are meant to keep an individual lost anonymously in the crowd. And quite frankly, most of us, reading very seldom, are completely and utterly lost. Lost on the inside, lost on the outside our existence is depressing at best and devastating at worst.
We are pained by the contradiction between outer pressure to conform and the deep inner isolation we feel. Because none of us, not one, will ever truly be satisfied by groupthink. And so we should read more. From perspective we gain permission to be ourselves, to find a compass, to form an opinion and to become — ultimately — appeased, relieved, assuaged.
Self-help books attempt to help us “get over” or “get through” the problems of life. And every single one of them holds the same benefit (it doesn’t mater which one you read): you are not alone in this problem.
Philosophy books attempt to provide a meaningful way to exist. And every single one of them holds the same benefit: you are not alone in questioning your existence.
Classical fiction books instruct via the lives of characters, providing slice-of-life comparisons on day-to-day existence, with the same benefit: you are not alone in being human; confused; making mistakes.
Genre fiction books give us worlds we’ll never know, never see. And each one holds the same benefit: You are not alone in your need to be whisked away, to project fantasies and alternate realities on to your day-to-day experiences.
Non-fiction history books tell us the perceived mistakes and triumphs of men in the past; each holding the same benefit: being human goes back farther than you can conceive. Be humble, you are nothing new but you do matter.
Non-fiction books about cosmology, mathematics and physics tell us: the pointlessness of it all gives it a point. You have meaning as the smallest flower has meaning. As the smallest particle renders an effect in the universe by blinking in and out of existence, in less than an instant, creating and un-creating itself over and over and over again.
I could go on. There are other types of books, of course. But it doesn’t really matter what you read. You must read more. You must keep reading all your life. To fulfill your soul and your desires and your fantasies and your need to connect and feel connected.
Otherwise, you will remain lost to yourself. And lost to social constructs that would provide only a facsimile of meaning; a thin veneer of belonging; a shallow and pitifully unsatisfying way of being alive.
And you, and I, should probably get out more, too. Experience teaches what books do.
Originally published at itsaculturething.com.