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Reading To Make Impact - ETCSINES

Reading To Make Impact - ETCSINES

Reading is the favourite way to develop your mind because it’s the most effective way to learn something. But not every book changes the way you think. Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly. To me , impact through reading means expanding your mind. You can read for leisure or to learn more about the world or 
yourself. If ten readers read the same book each will have a different impression. 

And if you read the same book after years, in the same way you will have a different perception of it. This tells us two things. The first is that a good book has never a thesis, or rather if it has it, it’s never declared. An advertisement has a thesis, a political program has a thesis. Not a book. The second is that this happens because reading a book is always a connection, a dialogue, between its content and the reader. The book of course does not change, but the reader does: he change in his background, in the maturation process, in his moods and how he digests it etc. In general reading a book is like living abroad. It is another way to be not satisfied with simple answers, to question every certainty. 

And if that occurs during adolescence or preadolescence is very important, because the stories we love at that age are the ones that we carry with us for a lifetime. This happen because when we are kids we deeply believe in the stories, in their power to change our lives, with an enthusiasm and an energy, which then for many reasons unfortunately we lose when we grow up. However, it is rare to find a single strong adult reader, who had started reading as a kid because it was supposed to be important. Everyone I know did it because reading was the most fun and exciting way to spend time. 

It's like falling in love: no one does it for a rational reason, but by an irrational stroke of lightning. When we are no longer teenagers but adults, the stories are once again important. They remind us that our life is not over. That the beauty is not behind us. They help us not to fall into intellectual laziness to seek easy shortcuts. What it is difficult, in the millions of stories that bombard us, it’s to 
find out our story: the story that we need at a particular time of our lives. I talk of stories and not of books because I think the really important thing is to exercise our curiosity. How, it doesn’t matter. I am not worried about people who don’t read, I am scared about people who don’t read, and together don’t watch TV series, and don’t listen to music, and don’t go to the cinema or theatre, and don’t travel, don’t attend conference or educational programs. The problem is that people with little curiosity for the world, like a domino effect easily become passive students , passive consumers, passive parents, passive citizens. They can be easily prey of propaganda, not because they are worse than others, but only because they will have fewer tools to do it, to go beyond the surface of things. 

As I said before, we can fight this with complexity and stories are a good way to stay fit. Turn every reading into a story and you would see how curious every reader would be. Clear information begets clear thinking and clear thinking impresses, informs and impacts. There are countless books that have pointed me in a different direction, or taught me a lesson. There are also many books that have helped me articulate my own emotions or thoughts, helped me find a voice. If it weren’t for the books I’ve read, I’d be a very different woman today, I’d even argue I’d be less of a woman. Books, especially good ones, have that sort of power. If you let them, they can change your life, serve as another compass or guide, or give you a lift when you need it most. I’m sure you can think of at least one book that fundamentally changed you as a human being.

• Reading is a lifeline to all else that is. Think about it: the book you are reading may have been written decades ago, in another country, maybe even in another language by a person who lived a completely different life. Either way, you are having a conversation with someone else, and, if you nod along enough while reading the book, you’re also finding a new friend and a friendlier existence. Reading reminds you that you are not alone. Your struggles and dreams are shared. Your life is a part of a larger ecosystem. The greatest books comfort you with this sense of belonging.

• As with any good conversation, when you read you do a lot of listening. You are on the receiving end of a wire transfer of knowledge . This other person, the writer, is imparting something, at the very least one thing, you didn’t have before: a fact, a theory, a point of view, an emotion. They are letting you into a psyche (theirs, their alter ego’s, their main character’s) and letting you in on some secrets. So reading flexes your empathy. It works your capacity to connect to another person and invest yourself in their story. Even if you vehemently disagree with them, you get to know them, and as any script writer will tell you, that is how you end up .

• Books teach you what not to do or say or believe in. But in order for anything to happen, you have to give it a chance, and to give it a chance you need to be humble. Reading will very likely remind you that everybody else is smarter than you. In some way, everyone else has an edge on you. Every one of us knows at least one thing better than everyone else. The books we read open up a new window of this universe, and we have the option of letting our eyes widen and start exploring.

• The most moving (and enduring) books you collect are those that become a mirror. This mirror is placed in front of you when you read something that has you nodding along and thinking, yes, that is how it is. You just found a part of yourself. The words written by a likely stranger have helped you connect with the person you ought to know the best. But the more read, the more you’ll educate yourself on yourself by finding what rings true.

• Reading challenges you. Taking a book seriously means risking the chance of finding an adversary. A book may become a headwind. These challenging books push back on everything you hold true. A challenging book will force you to re-think those flabby truths. What you considered true will be put to trial, and by defending them you will grow stronger, regardless of the outcome.

• Reading helps you remain calm. It’s as therapeutic as anything else. Once you start digging into a book that’s caught your attention, time ceases to exist, your mind is completely immersed in what is in front of you.As with anything that fully engages your attention, reading makes you stop rushing or running from one point to the next. Instead, you are where you need to be, right here, doing this, and all other things are secondary. 

• Reading is a pleasure it ought to be. Nobody has any time to read books you don’t like.Whatever you choose to read should bring you pleasure at some level. The amount of time and space that you invest in these should be an investment, not a cost. The return on this investment should be some sort of joy: a joy in having experienced it, a joy in having learned from it, or a joy in having found a new friend in it.. Read what enriches your life, and your life will change because of it.

Writer: Juliette Akomolafe

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