Why We Read: The Importance Of Being Well Read And Widely Read

It’s been many a time on this blog that I’ve complained about how people don’t read like they used to, even with the invention of e-books and the production of devices like Kindles, Nooks, and iPads. Oftentimes, people would rather watch TV than read a book.  “Reading is hard work!” they say.  Well, of course it is! Like your muscles (which only atrophy as you sit on your comfy couch and watch Family Guy), your brain atrophies (for lack of a better word) when you don’t use those parts of it! It’s hard to read because you don’t make a regular practice of it!

One of my primary goals with this blog is promoting reading, though reading just anything really isn’t enough.  It’s important to read, yes, but reading just anything won’t do it.  Reading is exercise for the brain; if you keep doing the easy exercises, you won’t actually get stronger.  This is what people fail to realize about reading; it’s not always easy, but with practice and time, you can be a good reader who retains even the most complex of ideas.  While some people really just don’t have the learning capacity to grasp certain books, I really think many people are just plain lazy, and don’t want to read books slightly higher than their average reading level.

Reading outside your level is going to stretch and flex your brain to the point where it hurts, but it’s good for you.  You learn more about the world by reading widely, and you learn more about yourself by reading well.  Read books in a genre otherwise unknown to you. Read books about your religion.  Read about how people understand life. Walk past the bestseller shelf and see what’s in the back of the store for once!  This is what I mean by reading widely; going outside the realm of what you typically read and learning about something new, something you’ve never even thought about before.  The bookstore is a great place to go for new adventures and experiences, and there’s a wide variety of those adventures all around!

Reading widely, however, means nothing if you don’t read well.  This is the part that takes practice, and it’s the reason why people like to stick to one thing when it comes to reading, if they read at all. Reading above your usual level takes time and patience, requiring you to pay attention to detail and to what the author is trying to convey. Reading well is all about retention, as well as learning from the author and responding to what he/she has written.  Reading well is what makes you realize that you’re more than some information-absorbing sponge, but a being who comprehends and responds to ideas as the author presents them.  You can be widely read very easily, but being well read takes time and practice.

I wrote the Why I Read series in an effort to show you the benefits of different genres and what they have to teach us as individuals.  I hope that you enjoyed them, and I hope it’s encouraged you to read in new areas and to really pour yourself into the books you read.

Coming up:


After that, I hope to have two more book reviews up.  Following that, I’ll post my year in review, the final total of all books read, and where that leaves me in regard to my goals.  I don’t expect a great count, necessarily, but I know this has been a great year, and next year’s plans are exciting!  See you guys next week, and have a whole mess of happy holidays!


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