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Why Reading and Books Matter

Posted in Books, Reading on February 21st 2008 by Randy Reichardt

.: Recently Steve Jobs was quoted saying that most people don’t read anymore:

“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore,” he said. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”

Timothy Egan responded to Jobs today in his 21 Febuary 2008 NYTimes blog, Outposts, in a most eloquent and humourous fashion, reminding us (yet again) how important the act of reading is:

Reading is something else, an engagement of the imagination with life experience. It’s fad-resistant, precisely because human beings are hard-wired for story, and intrinsically curious. Reading is not about product.

Exactly right, Mr Egan, thank you. I am not a fast reader, and at times in years past have gone months without reading a book. This does not mean I wasn’t reading during those times, it just wasn’t books, more likely magazines, newspapers, journals. More recently, I’ve found myself reading fiction again, after a 5-7 year period where I had read but two novels. But my reading of books has been ongoing and steady, and very enjoyable. I use Library Thing to keep track of my reading habits.

Reading is mind exercise, be it fiction, non-fiction, poetry, graphic novel, whatever. When I am immersed in a good book, I not only take great satisfaction and enjoyment from the experience, I also marvel at the creativity and originality of the author, wondering how much time and effort it took to do the research as well as simply being amazed at such an imagination.  Indeed – stretching one’s imagination and expanding the boundaries of one’s mind – what can be better?