On Reading

printingpressMark Twain said it.  A man who does not read good books has no advantage over a man who cannot read them.”

The first printing press was first used in China in 1041-1048.  Korea discovered it in 1377. Movable type was discovered by Gutenberg in Germany in 1450, and from there it went global.  Printing was a sea change in world communication.

Before movable type and the printing press, there was no such thing as a daily newspaper, a school text book, or a printed Bible.  Without the printing press Sir Isaac Newton would have been a relative unknown. 

The printing press made information democratic.  The Protestant Reformation was enabled in part because of the availability of the printed page, and the Renaissance was speeded up by the wide availability of books and other printed materials.  In 1620 Sir Francis Bacon wrote that the compass, firearms, and the printing press “changed the whole face and state of the world”.

Another communications sea change was the development of electronic media.  Information is now everywhere an Internet connection can be found.  Research that used to take hours can now be found in short order on the Internet.

Ironically, reading has been a casualty of the Internet.  Now, reading is primarily utility instead of hunger.  We read to find the closest Mexican restaurant and why our BFF went out of town or about his/her new car.  Want to know who that actor is?  Go to the IMDB to find out.  Simple as that.

Less often do you hear of someone reading to assuage the hunger to be generally informed or dream or discover.  Extensive reading is falling on hard times.  You might call this the Twitter age where anything much longer than the 140 character Twitter post may not be read.

In a LifeHack article Lana Winter-Hebert gave ten benefits of reading.  A few of them are

  • Mental stimulation.
  • Increased knowledge.
  • Vocabulary expansion.
  • Improved focus and concentration.
  • Better writing skills.

These benefits cannot be created in the ADD world that social media and the Internet have created.  Good reading by its nature takes time and reflection.

Reading makes us better people.  It expands the world and explodes false notions.  Reading fertilizes the mind with great ideas and inspiring thoughts.  Reading helps us know what truth is and exposes false leaders.  But the person who can’t be bothered to read a 250 word article is dangerously near to losing curiosity and hunger for knowledge.

Then s/he can be conquered by shallowness and those who want to control our thoughts.