Reading Is Something You Need To Do More Of

True knowledge is found in books

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Photo by Fabiola Peñalba on Unsplash

We all want to be wiser, smarter and more well-informed but are we as ‘smart’ as we may think.

When we think of someone as ‘smart’ we tend to think of someone who can rattle of impressive facts, statistics and other random pieces of trivia from seemingly nowhere.

We marvel at their ability to recall the most obscure facts and wonder how they can do it. This skill is almost revered in a way, much like a child may look at a magician and be mesmerised.

However, are these people ‘smart’? Is the ability to recall facts at will an indicator of the length and breadth of someone’s knowledge?

These feats may be impressive, but they are not practical. The ability to recall which philosopher taught Alexander the Great, or who was the 21st President of the United States has no tangible benefit in your daily life.

It doesn’t make us better people, nor does it benefit us in real-life. You may be able to recall all of this information, but what can you do with it? What is the relevance to acquiring knowledge for the sake of acquiring it?

The pursuit of knowledge is one we should all undertake but it should be for our benefit, not merely to know stuff. If it can’t be applied in the real world what use does it have?

Reading is a way of getting around this dilemma. Not simply reading to gain tidbits of information, but reading to acquire knowledge which can be applied to daily life.

Books are a tool for progress, self-discovery and learning. They are not meant to be a repository for harvesting useless facts. Developing a reading habit which benefits your overall view of the world we encompass is more beneficial than the acquisition of pointless knowledge.

Is Knowledge Power?

The other night I was watching the quiz programme Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. If you’re unfamiliar with the show, it’s a quiz show where contestants are asked 15 questions which increase in difficulty with the possibility of winning a million if they answer them all correct.

The show requires a depth of general knowledge and is a shortened version of a pub quiz. When I was watching the show, I noticed that I knew the majority of the answers.

Whenever a question came up, nine times out 10, I knew the answer. I have always had the ability to recall random and obscure pieces of information for quizzes. I’m not sure why this is the case, I have attributed this to the way my brain works.

I have a mathematically proficient friend. He can crunch numbers with ease, whereas I struggle. Maths is not my strong point, I find it hard to follow economic and mathematical concepts once they become more complex.

Each of us has an aptitude for particular skills. For me, I can retain information and recall it when I need to. If you asked me to name the capital city of a country, I will know the answer.

The more and more I have watched this show and thought about this, the more I have realised this skill is not as useful as it appears. Sure, it impresses people and it’s helpful if I’m taking part in a quiz, but in my daily life, its usefulness is diminished.

Whether I know the capital of Mali or not, does not affect my ability to get a job, to meet new people or to live a better life. At best, it’s a party trick, the real-world benefits are minimal.

While this skill may not be as useful as it appears, it is if you adapt to the real world. I realised a few years ago this information was not relevant to my everyday life. Instead, of searching for more of it, I deviated to reading books about issues that interested me.

No longer was I scouring books for knowledge, I was reading them to gain knowledge that I could use to improve my life. I read up on human history, what the future may hold and philosophical thoughts from thousands of years ago.

What I was searching for was true knowledge. Knowledge that had a purpose beyond the recollection of facts. I found it in books.

Read to Succeed

Reading is one of the best habits we can cultivate. Studies have shown reading can increase our emotional intelligence, preserve brain health and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

Far from being a passive activity, it helps to stimulate our minds and keep us young. The benefits are not only related to our bodies, but reading is also the best way to acquire knowledge and learn more about the world.

The more you read, the more you realise you don’t know. Reading is a humbling experience, it confirms how ignorant we are in a complicated world.

We are flooded with information daily, but reading is a way of getting around this. Instead, of consuming the news and the latest articles written in outrage, you can read about events that happened years ago or a fictional story.

It can shatter assumptions that we hold and broaden our horizons on topics we are ill-informed about. Almost all of the ills, fears and tribulations we experience today were felt in the past. Why not leverage this and see what the ancients wrote about such matters.

Lesser-known books such as Meditations and Letters from a Stoic are windows into a bygone time. They reveal that although much has changed in the two thousand since they were written, much remains the same today.

Knowledge is more than being able to regurgitate facts on demand, it is understanding the nuances of life. Reading allows us to develop our critical thinking skills and consider viewpoints different from our own.

In a world that is becoming more polarised by the day, it’s a skill we can ill afford to neglect.

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