Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Further thoughts on Reading

Recently, I’ve come across a very interesting site that I would like to talk about it here. This site is a blog about what famous people read. What I found interesting is neither the design nor the content of the site, but the case that many famous people have time to read books and what kind of books they are recommending. Of course, I said this without any proof that those famous people really read all the books that they claimed that they had read, just like some people who bought lots of books to ‘decorate’ their homes or out of impulse, but ever really read their own book collections. Nevertheless, as I’ve recently blog about reading, it is just my further thoughts on this topic.

I remember reading in Malchom Gladwell’s book - Blink, he mentioned that it is possible to know a person better by checking out his living place in the absence of that person than talking to the person. Certainly, we are not invited to visit the home of those famous people. However, bookshelf is part of our living space, and what’s on it is also a good representation of what kind of interest and taste of the person has in terms of reading. Therefore, that site alternatively gives a peek of partially what the famous people are to the public. In many regular people’s mind, those famous people are just too busy in making money or enjoying fame. We could lose sight that they also do things that many regular people do, like leisure reading before bedtime or in traffic.

I always believe that reading is important to personal development. We might be forced to read while we were in school. Many people simply stop reading after they left school. They may still read magazine or newspaper. However, they would not go to library or bookstore to get books to read. Hopefully the boom of E-readers or Apple’s mythical tablet will make more people to read, especially young people¸ as they will have one less excuse of not reading provided the new convenience of book access.

I remember many years back, I saw an ad on TV which about promotion of reading. In that ad, a rough guy who looks like a hell’s angel biker got on a bus with few passengers. As he was walking towards the backseats, people were looked kinda intimidated. The guy then settled in his seat and pulled out a something from his pocket. Instead of a gun, a knife, a cigarette or some sort, it was unexpectedly a novel of ‘Romeo and Juliet’. He started flipping it with a smile on his face. People was then relieved with that scene. It was a pretty funny ad, but it does send a message to audience that reading could change your image on other’s mind. I’m not saying that you should bring a book all the time for the sake of making people viewing you as a scholar of some sorts. I just think reading, besides benefiting the reader, do have a side effect of improving an image of a person.

Certainly, reading the right book in the right place at the right time does matter. Reading junk or reading a book in a gathering will make people think otherwise, you can certainly still doing that if you like. I know a person who I would describe as bookworm. He doesn’t do any entertainments except reading. He doesn’t buy books, all his reading is done through borrowings from local public library. I would say that he read well over 100 books per year, and the books that he read are not popular fictions, but topics of various specific interests, like economic theory in recession, etc. This guy has a full time job and is married. Though I think his marriage is on a rock, that’s a separate story. I respect his hobby, I don’t know how much knowledge he can pick up on the difficult topics that he read as he is quite a speed reader. What’s weird about him is how extreme and obsessive he reads. I was told that he reads when he went to his wife’s gathering with friends. He certainly didn’t enjoy the gathering, but he still went because he thought he should be with his wife. However, he never came across the fact that reading in those occasions is simply impolite or offensive to the feeling of others. Well, that’s an odd case anyway.

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