On reading and books

The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read – Mark Twain.

I admit I have not always read this much non-fiction as I have always liked to read fiction, there was always something I looked forward to doing – reading novels – with the odd non-fiction book begging to be read. Not to say I didn’t enjoy reading the odd non-fiction like Ben Carson’s gifted hands but it wasn’t my ‘thing’. I also vaguely remember a few people urging me to read more non-fiction (maybe while trying to ‘sell’ me a book) but I easily told them – it wasn’t my ‘thing’.

The reason is not far-fetched: Fiction fed my imagination and had the ability to ‘take me places’. A quick disclaimer though, I stopped reading M & B after a couple of years of starting – I found them repetitive even though they were ‘easy’ reads and had their peculiar allure. Having said that, my particularly favorite story I like to share is that of me shedding tears profusely while reading (Danielle Steel and more recently Half of a yellow sun) – it was almost as if I was personally affected in the present by their stories.

Non-fiction on the other hand is arguably boring and more difficult to read BUT the benefits can be said to outweigh that of reading fiction – especially depending on what you start out to achieve. I personally disliked ‘self-help’ books: my argument being that there was no one way to achieving or being something and anyone trying to shove their ‘success’ story down my throat will have to do more than sell me a book… My perspective has changed ever so slightly and I think even ‘self help’ books have their benefits. My aim in the last couple of years is to have at least one fiction and one non-fiction book at any given time – it would seem that I’ve had more of the latter in that time – wonders shall never end!

Talking about wonders, in this day and age where there are audio books, even people that don’t like to read or are unable to read, can benefit from ‘reading’. I am hoping, we all agree that there are benefits to reading (reading in this context relates to ‘leisure’ reading and not in the academic sense). So when I decided to post about reading, I had in mind sharing some gist on reading and also other self-development options that should come in handy. The best part is that they are free useful and online.

My all time favorite is Coursera and I just finished a short course on learning how to learn which I found instructive! There is also code academy where you can learn various computer programming languages. There is mindtools app and of course TedEx, subscribing to free podcasts and a host of other free resources. A comprehensive list can be found on www.mooc-list.com. I used Audibles to buy a few audio books and I enjoyed being able to multitask, I also got a few free online downloads though they were mostly not the full books. I am sure many of the mentors can add to the list – please feel free to do just that!

To round this up nicely, it is important to read – more in the unacademic sense than in the academic sense. Investing (time AND money) in this practice (it’s a hobby for some people) is invaluable: more valuable than spending time in front of the TV or aimlessly on social media. I don’t intend to suggest that anyone reading this should jump from reading one book (GEG) to another (fiction/non-fiction), or that reading fiction is a pure waste of your time, I am only suggesting what I know to be true – what you will realize to be true in the near future. It is my intention to stress the importance of balance – among the things we spend our leisure doing of which reading for leisure and reading instructive material for leisure should be one.

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