See, I used to be the “good kid” in the family. For some reason, my book smarts made them very proud. They bragged about me all the time. But have you ever noticed how parents get carried away when they brag about their kids?
“Did you hear …” my mom would say, “that my Ada got another A++in Classic Lit? She’s the next Shakespeare that one. She sure is. Well, that’s no wonder. She started reading when she was two. She hasn’t stopped since. She even reads in her sleep.”
Never mind that poor Ada doesn’t give a darn about Shakespeare and his work. She can’t stand him actually ever since she found out he mercilessly killed Romeo and Juliet in what was supposed to be the greatest love story of all time.
Ada would much rather spend her time reading about the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, or the three musketeers. Love stories about dashing knights in shiny armor and breathtaking damsels in distress are some of her favorite reads. She loves children’s fairy tales too. Those are lots of fun.
Just don’t ask Ada to write anything. She has a visceral fear of composition. That’s the fastest way to take the fun out of reading something: ask her to write her thoughts about it. Kill joy! Oh, and poor Ada also has no problem putting her books down and getting some sleep … for the most part.
Yes, my parents liked to brag about me a lot. That’s until I went to college, got drunk, and fell asleep on the subway for a few hours. It was my senior year, OK? Plus … it was my sister’s fault. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.
Back to reading now: I was trying to make a point about it but I got distracted … as usual. I’ll try my best to stay on track now. I will!
Sooooo … when it comes to reading, my interests are all over the place: fiction (romance, fantasy, mystery, etc) and non-fiction (self-improvement, running, business, etc). I even like browsing magazines.
There are two main reasons I read:
- For pure entertainment.
- To learn something new. I would get really bored if I didn’t learn new things. It’s one way of keeping my overactive mind busy and … sane. Make that relatively sane.
It’s hard to separate the two. I get both entertainment and some new knowledge out of everything I read. Even if it’s the “knowledge” that I will never read a certain book or a certain author again.
The point that I’m trying to get to … finally … is that, in all my years of reading, I have never … ever … make that not-even-one-single-time read anything that I agreed with 100%. Never. Ever. At the very most I agree with about 71.2% of what I read … but only if I read something I wrote myself!
When I’m trying to learn something new, I first read the new material and then change it to suit my needs and my personality. Always. Every. Single. Time.
I used to think that everybody did the same. Then I noticed how people buy books, read blogs, or watch YouTube videos when they want help with something. They want to find something they can just follow, without putting any thought into it. Classic example? Losing weight.
Feel like you’ve gained five pounds more than you are willing to carry? No problem. Buy this diet book, follow the eating plan, and fill your plate with delicious fruits and vegetables. Don’t forget to drink the fat-melting smoothies made with strawberries, some nuts for added protein, and kale for its amazing blood purifying properties. What? You’re allergic to strawberries and nuts? Kale makes you green … because you’re about to throw up? No worry! Chug that smoothie down anyway. Once you feel the first waves of anaphylaxis (you know, that potentially deadly allergic reaction), grab your epipen, stick it in your leg, and wait until you can breathe again. By then you’ll probably be too worn out to throw up … from the kale.
Now, what I just wrote is a pretty stupid example. But I did notice similar behavior … many times. People who read self-help books and try to change themselves to fit a certain plan. That’s a completely wrong approach.
There is no such thing as a perfect plan. We are not all the same, are we? I can’t stand celery. I can’t stand its smell. I can’t stand its taste. I can’t even stand the sight of it. No matter how badly I would want to lose five pounds, you’ll never see me following the fool-proof-way-to-lose-5-pounds-celery- diet. Never. Even if it promised me to be able to eat all the milk chocolate with hazelnuts in the world and never gain another ounce again. I won’t eat the celery. E V E R.
My sister-in-law though loves that stuff. She even eats it for a snack. She would have no problem with the celery diet. Crazy, right? Yes, that’s what I think too.
So what would I do? I’m still 5 pounds too heavy, remember? Well, I would read about that celery diet and see if I can understand the principles behind it. Does it make sense? Could I use something else instead of that disgusting celery? Yes? Good. I’ll give it a try. No? Oh, well. There are plenty of other diet books out there. I just need to keep reading … which I would have done anyway since I love reading so much.
What I’m trying to say is that I actually think it’s pretty sad that many people are not using their brains anymore. They read books and follow advice blindly.
I think our minds are one of our greatest blessings. To be able to read, hear, talk to someone and feel intellectually engaged … it feels amazing. Almost as good as being able to eat all the milk chocolate with hazelnuts in the world and never gain another ounce again.
Maybe I haven’t found the perfect book yet because I would miss the chance to “argue” about it. The perfect book would be too boring. It would take away from me the joy of figuring out what and how things could be done better. I love thinking. Even if I over think many times.
So, I, for one, am very thankful there is no such thing as a perfect book. I’m still having fun reading.