As Thanksgiving approaches, I feel especially thankful for bookstores and libraries. In a world more and more controlled by the internet, it is reassuring to know that we can still read a book that is not selected and possibly abridged or edited for us by computer programmers.Real independence of thought can only be maintained if we have access to the printed word from other places and other times, just as it was written and published by whoever wrote it. I don’t mean the movie version, which is subject to the interpretation of a screenplay writer, a director and a producer. A real book, poured out from the heart and mind of a writer sharing his or her unique perspective, challenges us to look at life from an original point of view.
We are bombarded by so much stimulus from social media, video games, movies and television, that it is harder and harder to calm our minds enough to read. But reading enlarges our world in a different way from all these other ways of assessing images and information. When it comes to images, we are required to use our own imaginations to visualize content on a page. That automatically makes us more the masters of our own minds, than when we simply respond to imagery that is provided for us.
Try to read at least one hour a day for every two hours you spend online. Or better still, read two hours a day for every hour you spend on social media.
When it comes to information, researching a subject or an issue by reading all sides and opinions is far superior to just gullibly swallowing the soundbites with which we are bombarded by people wanting our money or our votes. When it comes to history, read widely and read first-hand accounts whenever possible. When it comes to science, study the chemistry, biology, or physics for yourselves. A lot has been discovered since most of us were in high school or college.
Try to read at least one hour a day for every two hours you spend online. Or better still, read two hours a day for every hour you spend on social media. Don’t watch one half-hour of news selected by a network; read in-depth articles in news magazines or newspapers.
When you read fiction, don’t always read an escape novel that reads like a movie on paper; sometimes read challenging fiction that changes how you see life a bit, or forces you to look up some words in a dictionary. Try to learn one new word a week. Support your local bookstores, and support your local library. Most importantly, parents and grandparents, read to your children.