(Number of hours spent reading per week around the world by country.)
I’m trying to read more books per year than the average American does (about 5) for the rest of my life, although I know the quality of the books I read matters, and it might be more important to reread books than to just shoot for a numerical count. (It’s not worth trying to beat women if they’re just reading romance and mystery novels!) I know CEOs are avid readers that read about 4-5 books a month, or at least Bill Gates reads about 50 a year now, but hey, I’m reading because I’m curious about things. (Not because I want to talk to CEOs or to know how to manipulate people.) I don’t think I have the personality to be a CEO, although maybe reading books is what tends to change that? Maybe if I read enough books I’ll develop egotistical delusions and be persuaded to become a CEO that can change the world.
The fact I’m reading any books when I see that none of my immediately ancestors or extended family actually read, (and prefer televisions in retirement), is already my way of opposing my humble roots and the prevalent anti-intellectualism. I have read wikipedia more than any of them, and I have tended to buy books which decorate my bookshelf, although for a few years I have usually read only a little of then, and then got bored and don’t finish them. I do think that if I had been adopted into a family that value learning and debating more, and which had given me encouragement, that I probably would have read much more and flown much higher or even been a scholar, but hey, all we can do is the best we can do from wherever we start.
This year I have read:
- Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire by Kurt Anderson
- Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
- Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker (audio book)
And I am beginning to read:
- “The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World” by Catherine Nixey
- “The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies” by General Michael Hayden
- The War on Normal People: The Truth About America’s Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future by Andrew Yang
- A Higher Loyalty by FBI director James Comey
I read some erotic stories too, but since there isn’t educational value that doesn’t really count! Also I’ve been reading Reuters daily, and Foreign Affairs magazine which is a bimonthly magazine that debates the best interests of US foreign policy. It’s at least thick enough that if you put two of them together it’s basically a 300 page book. I have a long way to go, but I’m trying to fight the compulsion to seek out little bits of information on the internet, and to increase my focus and depth of knowledge by increasing the number of traditional books I read from authoritative sources, (and sometimes contrarians.)
It’s more difficult to read now that so many bookstores have closed down, and because I’m so thrifty and television or internet are so much cheaper. But the advertising model which supports the internet is definitely hurting our level of knowledge by leading us toward click-bait and shoddy journalism, which is why I intend to keep on buying books and donating them to libraries when I finish with them. I just hope librarians will shelve the books rather than selling them, and that scalpers won’t just buy my books and resell them online…I suppose if it gets costly I’ll have to switch to reading them on Kindle/Kindle Unlimited, or to reselling books.
I somewhat doubt that I’ll ever get to reading 5 books a month like a CEO. I think that would stress out my eyes, and I don’t want to go blind! But perhaps I can cut down my time on the internet and comfortably read one book a month, and then two a month, and then figure out where to go from there.
I like Sam Harris’s podcast because he constantly interviews authors which has rekindled my interest in reading books. I basically only read fiction (especially sci-fi) when I was growing up, so when I got tired of that and when I became hooked on manga and the internet, I gradually stopped reading more than about 2 books a year, but now I want to catch up and reach for my potential. I don’t think I would have gotten so interested in reading books in English if I hadn’t visited a forum where other atheists talked about the New Atheists and a bit of philosophy, and caught their bug for reading their books. This is something I’ve been hungry for for a long time, but I didn’t know where to find it–it’s actual knowledge and the exchange of ideas, which unfortunately, pretty much stopped after finished school.
(I think that’s why I have since then thought about becoming a teacher, because I have hoped that maybe if I could go back to the academic environment I could go back to learning things again. At the very least I could talk to other teachers during the breaks who know about their fields. I really hated how once I left the university, I couldn’t actually ask questions from “experts” anymore, and I think there is something really wrong about how our society essentially keeps regular people from visiting the campuses unless they pay upwards of $3,000 to take a class. But I guess once you leave that learning environment (and don’t even have access to academic journals), the best you can do is to read the popular books of experts.) In the absence of universities or the Greek agora, we just have to do the best we can to learn and exchange ideas.
Honestly, I kind of still want to become a teacher. I guess I think it could be fun, and that I wouldn’t be one of those cynics that hates his students, and I would definitely get better at communicating and discover a lot to share if I were to try that.