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Reading Is A Virtue

Reading a book

Reading a book (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How can you learn about the world around you?  By reading.  How can you further educate yourself on various topics?  By reading.  How can you launch a successful career?  By reading.

Still, there are lots of teens who hate to read.  To them, reading is for nerds or brains, not so much for the cool dudes.  These teens only read when they have to, for example when doing their homework, but dread it then. The only time they love reading is perhaps if the material pertains to a personal interest or type of story they’d enjoy.  You may see some standing around the magazine racks in stores browsing their favorite magazines.

And it isn’t only teens, many adults dislike reading and avoid it whenever possible.  There are exceptions of course.  Some may have careers that require a great deal of reading such as lawyers, accountants, administrators, etc.  Also, there are those who feel it’s their biggest priority to keep up with the news.

Add to that, the savvy consumers.  Not only are they out to save money, but they want to be armed with knowledge when making purchasing decisions.  Likewise, there are those who want the inside scoop on issues that may affect them.  They need to know their rights and what they can do if they’re in troublesome situations.

Reading Is a Virtue

I’ll say it again…reading is a virtue.  You must first start by adopting a positive attitude towards reading.  Sure, reading never sounds like fun, unless it is on a topic that you enjoy.  Reading is never a waste of time and effort.  In fact, it can teach you things you hadn’t expected to encounter.  Even when reading an article that you don’t find too interesting, you might pick up on a valuable fact that may not be directly related to the article.  And if you gained nothing from it, you didn’t lose anything either.

I’ll give you five good reasons to read, read, read:

  1. The more you read, the less hassles you’ll face.  Though it may seem like an unnecessary time-consuming, mundane task (especially if you think you know everything), in the long run it will save you time of fixing mistakes, returning items to stores, and possibly embarrassment from awkward situations that stems from lack of information.
  2. Reading keeps you on top of things happening in your community.  For example, if you belong to a club, you can adequately prepare for changes that arise due to unexpected circumstances.  The more you read, the sooner you know, and the better prepared you’ll be.  Those in your everyday world will have a more favorable impression towards you if they see you’re well prepared.
  3. Reading  can will improve your grades.   Sure, reading assignments take up your time and seem rather cumbersome, but there is a purpose for each chapter or handout you are given, or else you wouldn’t have been instructed to read it.  What is that purpose?  How does it tie in with the rest of the course?  Just sit down and take the time to read the passage.  If you don’t understand parts of it, reread them or ask your teacher questions.  Never be in a hurry and skim through it.  That will never work.  As you already know, you will have to take a test based on the material.  Taking tests suck if you don’t know the answers and guessing them rarely ever scores you points.  However, if you’re well prepared, you will enjoy the tests and anticipate getting better grades.  Getting good grades in high school will help you succeed in college.
  4. Reading can help you succeed in your career.  For sure, many of us value having a good-paying job and one that challenges us.  Although such a career gives us greater self-esteem, learning and understanding all phases of the job may seem daunting.  Many “newbies” would like to attain instant success but are intimidated by manuals and lectures.  Because of this, some may become discouraged and will evade reading as much as possible.  Their attitude may be: “Why should I read these things?  I’ll never understand them anyway.”  Still, you can never lose anything by reading what you’re required to read, even if you never understand it.  But the more you allow reading to intimidate you, the less likely you will succeed on the job.
  5. Reading makes you a well-rounded person.  Not only does reading make you more intelligent, but it expands your horizons all the more. If you’re willing to read about most subjects in general, even those that don’t pertain to you personally, you are more likely to understand other peoples’ problems as well.  These can be topics as pregnancies, marriages, divorces, money management, etc.  Though these subjects have nothing to do with you, they can help you better relate with people who are affected by them.  You may learn about others’ lifestyles and different cultures.  The more you know, the easier you will find it to interact with others.  You will be better prepared to face situations in your approaching adult years.

Hopefully I convinced you that reading will help you tremendously in life.  No, it’s not always fun to read, but look at it this way: any successful man will tell you that not everything in life is supposed to be fun.  If you still hate reading, I won’t condemn you for that.  Despite all I know, even now and then I tend to shrug it off. To better understand yourself, read on…..

Reading Is Like Eating Raw Carrots

Why is it that people dislike reading?  First of all, people think in pictures, not words.  Second, many find themselves challenged by things they read.  Third, in some cases, reading seems more like a chore than a leisure activity.  It requires one’s full attention and concentration.  A great number of people don’t have an attention span beyond 10 seconds.  Fourth, most all whom dislike reading know they have had problems understanding and remembering things they have read in the past.

Everybody knows that carrots are good for you.  Eating them, however, brings no pleasure whatsoever.  It’s not because they taste terrible, but their flavor is not so pleasant either.  Besides that, they require vigorous chewing and hence, they’re not the snack of choice by any means.  Like eating raw carrots, reading can also seem laborious and cumbersome and let’s not forget, bitter.  That is why many tend to avoid it whenever possible.

People who dislike reading prefer action over written or spoken words.  They would rather engage in an activity that will bring quick, favorable results.  Likewise, they desire to be active and take in stimuli in their environment instead of sitting still and concentrating.  Hence, reading to them is much more of a chore rather than an activity they can enjoy.  Some feel reading will only be intellectually antagonizing, bogging down their minds with intense details they’ll never remember.

If you feel this way, you may want to read about my personal experiences.

As a Teen I Had a Hate-Love Relationship with Reading

…And beyond then, I used to hate reading.

Pleasure and instant results were most important to me and since they were, reading posed as a threat to rob me of my enjoyment.  I wanted to be out doing some physical activity or spending time outdoors when the weather was nice.  Therefore, I saw reading as a chore that would take me away from all that.

Despite that, a lot of what I read as far back as grade school I found interesting.  I excelled in English, history, and math.  Although my grades weren’t top-notch by any means, I was able to answer a lot of questions in class.  By doing that, I impressed my classmates as they thought I was exceptionally smart.  Some even thought I might be a straight ‘A’ student.  That’s a lie if there ever was one.

But when it came to homework, half the time I was happy to read because I knew it was necessary, but on some occasions, I would skip out on reading certain things for fear of boredom or I was convinced that I wouldn’t understand the material anyway.  In some cases, I figured I knew these things already or I could just fake it that I did.

For example, in a news writing class, we were all given a booklet on the rules of writing material for the high school’s paper.  These rules went into great detail of how words and phrases should be written according to their style. Like the word percent was to be written as per cent (two words, not one).  Because I did well in English courses, I felt that reading this booklet was unnecessary, so I didn’t.  Now I wish I had.

On the other hand, if we were assigned to read novels, I would love to read.  While most students expressed their loathing for these books, I tend to love them.  I guess it goes back to grade school, my teachers would read books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Henry Huggins books by Beverly Cleary.  Unfortunately, my reading taste has not grown up, as I would seek out “baby books” to read, even in Junior High.  I would read the jokes section of Boys Life magazine (for boy scouts).  The jokes there were rather elementary and only grade school kids might find them funny.  Still, as I read them, I skipped over the long ones figuring it was too much effort to read them.

As an Adult, I Was Knowledge Deprived

Boy did I pay the price for reading as little as possible.

I hated reading the newspapers, especially current events articles.  I would only do so because one of my history classes required it, but I would read the minimum I feel I could get away with.  The teacher would then ask us to voluntarily contribute to the classroom conversation with their personal insights on current events.  I only spoke if the teacher asked me, but never volunteered.  I would just tell myself, I’m no good at understanding current events.  I just wasn’t born with that skill.  BULLSHIT!!  Nobody’s born with that skill, they acquire it over time.

Then again, I had trouble understanding the content in newspaper articles.  I would read them, daydream, then reread paragraph after paragraph and the material would not sink in.  Not only was this difficult, but extremely boring.  My mind would wander and little things that happened in life would bother me too much to concentrate.

Quite often, I would purchase things that required assembly, for example book shelves.  When putting things together, I would be totally turned off by the massive amounts of screws, bolts, caps, and other parts that were required in the assembly.  My attitude was, “Why are all these things needed anyway?”  I figured I knew everything necessary and attempted to put whatever it was together without reading the instructions.  That of course led me to taking the thing apart and starting over.

One great example was when I purchased an electric typewriter.  I figured I’d pull the unit out of the box, remove all packing materials, plug it in, and begin typing.  Once I turned it on, I kept hearing beeping sounds.  Although I put in a sheet of paper, the beeping persisted and I could not activate the keys.  I glanced at the owner’s manual and read a thing about radio interference and thought that was the problem.  Shortly after, I returned the typewriter to Target for another one telling the customer service clerks there was radio interference preventing it from working.  They seemed to believe me and granted me an exchange for an identical one.

It turned out that there was nothing wrong with the original typewriter as I became frustrated trying to get it to work.  I finally gave in and read the manual and it turns out that there were plastic tabs to hold the ball in place that I hadn’t removed.  Bottom line: If only I read the instructions thoroughly the first time, I could have saved myself a trip to the store.

If at first you don’t succeed, read the instructions.

My Work Performance Suffered

My work performance suffered while working for a worker’s compensation insurance company in Minneapolis.  Me and five other workers processed one-year insurance policies that businesses were required to take out to cover their employees.  Not to go into great detail, but we were required to do the math work to see if these companies owed additional premium or were due refunds at the end of the year.  A lot of the contracts I processed were returned to me for corrections.  My job skills were marginal and I did not advance in my department as others did.  Luckily, I didn’t lose my job.

While working at Berkley, I rarely read the documents and memos that were distributed to everyone.  They would just pile up in my inbox and because of this, I had a less-than-average understanding of what was happening in the company.  Some of the staff, it seems, looked down on me for my lack of skills.

In Conclusion

The point here is that I cheated myself out of a better life because I disliked reading.  My work performance was often poor and I knew little of what was going on in the workplace.  When attending social gatherings and meetings I never had anything to contribute to the conversations.  I used to wonder what was wrong with me.  I’m just not a good conversationalist.  I felt like I was dumber than the average person.  I felt inferior in groups of people and acted as if people were thinking bad thoughts about me.

My life, in a nutshell, was not as successful or enjoyable as it could have been.  Only if I read more, I could have been a more active member of society.

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