Never underestimate the value of a lesson read. One of the many things I wish I had seen more of at college is people reading. Hardly any of my friends read in college outside of assigned textbook readings, tweets, and reddit forums. Those are fine places where useful information is certainly disseminated. However, a person who only reads those things and not much else will be denied the wealth of knowledge that the person who reads books, magazines, articles, blog posts, etc. possesses.
My advice to you is to read everything you can get your hands on. Sounds simple, don’t it? Get a subscription to a magazine. With a student discount, it ends up being about a dollar a week most of the time, sometimes less. If you’re not a college student, go to the local library. There will be lots of magazines there. (College libraries have these also.)
If you are reading this as a college student and thinking you don’t have time to read, you’re lying to yourself. I see you on Facebook and Snapchat six hours a day. You can’t bullshit a bullshitter. Make time to read. Sure, you can get a synthesized version of the information you’re after in a twenty minute YouTube video, or a podcast, or a sparknotes summary, but there is no substitute for the real thing.
The main joy underlying my recommendation that you read any and everything you can is being exposed to new ways of thinking and new topics heretofore untapped by you. That should be what education is truly all about—not Greek Life, GPAs, and football games. Who knows? An article you read a month from now might make you want to change majors. A book you read might make you realize that you’ve been treating your friend poorly and that you should forgive them. I don’t know the specifics.
Make a special effort, if you’re going to accept my advice, to read things that on first appearance don’t fit into your worldview. If you’re a liberal, go read a few Breitbart articles. If you’re a conservative, go read a few non-Breitbart articles. If you’re into movies, go read a few reviews of a movie critic with whom you usually disagree.
If travel broadens the mind, then reading does so much more efficiently. Reading a book doesn’t require a passport, nor several hundred dollars, nor the prospect of dysentery. (I’m not saying don’t travel.) Books don’t just allow the traveling through space but through time as well. You can, with a simple google search, be instantly transported to Verona hundreds of years ago, or to a whaling voyage out of eighteen century New England.
My love of words leaves an ineffable bias on my heart. You don’t have to love the English language as much as I do to get the type of utility and use out of reading I’m talking about. You can even hate reading. But you should still do it. The opportunities it affords you are priceless.
Here are some books I’m reading at the moment if you’re interested.
- American Pastoral by Philip Roth
- The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
- The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis
- Lessons for the Young Economist by Bob Murphy
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (never thought this would be on my list)
Please, please, please read. I’m begging you. An hour a day. Break it up into smaller timechunks if you have to, just do it. The world is counting on you.