Is Reading Enough?

IMG_4450Is the amount of things we read enough to justify having “knowledge” if we don’t apply what we’ve learned?

I’ve been thinking a lot about how much I identify with being a reader and how, in some way, that makes me feel “better” than people who don’t read as much as I do. I know “reading” in and of itself doesn’t make any person better than the next. There’s also an extensive conversation we could go into about the accessibility of books at affordable prices specially in developing countries, but today we’re going to focus on something different: Is reading enough? How much weight does applying what we read hold? And are we really applying what we read to better our lives or just to “get it over with” and move on to the next book? 

Changing Others vs Changing Ourselves

A lot of times I think we can get so consumed with this identity we’ve build around reading that we forget that the true purpose of reading and learning in general is to broaden our understanding of ourselves, of the world and of other people. A broader understanding, in theory, should lead to being better at dealing with conflicts/being less affected by other people’s actions because you understand where people are coming from, their motivations and points of view.

But what if we catch ourselves only using that “knowledge” to further justify our points of view and not really trying to understand others? What if we get caught up in a cycle of trying to get everyone around us to change and be more “open” as we are instead of using what we know and our new found “openness” to truly understand others?

Are We Really Applying What We’ve Learned?

With learning, for the most part, the lessons only stick once we apply them. But in most reading communities, specially the ones with a focus on personal development books, we fall into the trap of applying the lessons once and assuming we’ve mastered them. A lot of the time, we don’t realize how mechanical we’re being by applying the lesson so we can “move on” to the next chapter or the next book and don’t actually incorporating those lessons into our lives.

This is the reason why I’ve slowed down on my reading and am choosing to focus on turning all the lessons I take from everything I read into active parts of my life. I read less, but I apply more and make sure the lessons develop into habits.

Change Habits, Change Outcomes

The choice to focus on applying instead of consuming mass amounts of information is a hard one to make because FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is real and most of us would like to read as much as we can in our lifetime. But when we realize that the most important thing we get out of reading is the people we become and not the amount of things we we can quote, choosing to consume less so that we can get more out of each book we read seems like the logical choice. We just have to take the leap and do it.

How do you approach reading? How much are you retaining/applying from the books you read? Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Leave them all below!

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2 Comments

  1. With regards to “learning” from books, the easiest things I pick up from my reading are more things to do with… morals? ethics? opinions? beliefs? I struggle to learn “content”, if that’s what you mean – I find it really difficult to get into non-fiction because it’s quite heavy. However, I do like learning about a particular topic through the medium of fiction. For example, I’m currently reading a story/biography which focuses on the disease of alcoholism. Through a more “fictional” style of writing (although it’s a true story) makes it easier for me to grasp the points the writer is trying to make.

    I’ve no idea if this answers any of your prompt questions but I thought I’d write it all the same 🙂
    https://readandreview2016.wordpress.com/

    Reply

  2. Great post. I actually think about this a lot and wonder if people read 70+ books a year just to boast about the number or do they actually apply what they read – be it fiction or non fiction. I think the questions you pose are valid and should be accessed by all readers at some point in their reading lives lol. It’s important to check and revise the motives and goals of reading. Thanks for this! 🙂

    Reply

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