On Books, Reading, and Thinking

“Hmmm… which book to read next…?”

I hardly ever used to read when I was a kid; the only time I read books was when they were assigned for classwork in school. Now, at the age of 30, I am working feverishly to make up for lost time, by reading as much as possible in my free time. Of course, I read a lot at my job, but I don’t really consider reading for work very progressive in terms of personal development.

My Goodreads Goal: 10 Books

I have committed myself to reading 10 large books this year. Thus far, I’ve had much success. I’ve read eight, and thus only have two more to go. I have found that reading large, difficult books to be excellent for my personal development and expanding my general knowledge base. My leanings tend heavily toward history, philosophy, and science. I find that one needs to suspend emotion while reading history, as reading history in depth is generally a depressing ordeal. The reason for this, is that you continually observe the stupidity, greed, and violence of the human animal in gory detail.

The books I have read this year:

  1. Understanding Human History (see my review here)
  2. The Richest Man in Babylon
  3. Optimal Control and Estimation
  4. Arrest-Proof Yourself
  5. The Ascent of Money
  6. The Intelligent Investor
  7. The Prince
  8. A Rumor of War

The Retreat from a Stupid Society

I wouldn’t say I am obsessed with reading – I merely engage in it because I have retreated from all other forms of mass media consumption. We live in a pretty stupid society, and it gets worse every year. Television has gotten so stupid, that watching it makes me feel as if I am literally killing my brain cells. We live in an age where pro-wrestling is shown on the Sci-Fi channel and crackpot theories about aliens are shown on the “History Channel.” I don’t own a radio and don’t drive much, but I doubt things are much better on the average radio station.

This show was actually produced and presented on a channel that markets itself as the “History Channel.”

Keeping Ahead of the Pack

Staying well-informed is important to me, as there are many stakeholders (corporations and politicians mainly) in society that seek to profiteer from the ignorance of the general public. You can separate yourself from the pack by being better informed than the average Joe. While RSS feeds are a good way to stay up-to-date on current events, a thick book on a single, well-explored subject can impact your mind and soul in a way that short newspaper articles never could.

How to Avoid Getting Up to Your Eyeballs in Books

Of course, one cannot read everything. I myself have more books than I know what to do with, and more than a fair share have been purchased, left unread, only to have me give up in frustration and donate the book to Goodwill. I find it wise to pare things down, in order to keep my stock of books at a manageable level. Oddly enough, I find it wise to avoid used book shops, since this prevents me from buying a book I will never read in a moment of giddy excitement. Instead, I merely add the book to my Amazon Wish List, and so if I ever do find time to read it, I can order it off Amazon and have it shortly. All without having to store huge numbers of books in my apartment.

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