I made a challenge to myself to read 100 books this year. As of this post I have read 24 books since January 1st. I didn’t decide to try this challenge till later in the month so I am a bit behind schedule. I read fiction and non-fiction alike. I’ve read fantasy, instructionals, spiritual guides, science fiction, dramas, existential works, and poetry. I’ve also watched less television and wasted less time wasted in front of my computer.
As I spent more time behind the pages of a book, I began to notice a shift in my consciousness. Changing my focus from my computer to a book changed my outlook from passive to active. Reading is very different to watching a TV show. A TV show is a passive experience. It happens to me. Characters, emotions, sounds, and feelings are all provided. When reading a book, I am forced to engage myself, kick my imagination into gear and work at creating a world, a character, or an action based on the words provided by the author. I often feel tired after reading because I have actually been doing something.
This engagement has trickled over to the rest of my life. I am more active and aware. Instead of sitting down in front of my TV after work, I find something to do. I might reach for a paintbrush, or spend some time in my garden. I might go out for an evening bike ride around my neighborhood.
I am not saying that I have cut TV out of my life completely, or that I even want to do so. I love shows like Game of Thrones, Vikings, Hannibal, and Arrow. But I appreciate them more for having an engaged mindset. Being an active part of the story, rather than viewer. Watching less TV is actually helping my enjoy and fully appreciate the shows that I do regularly watch.
Reading every night doesn’t cut into my day. I don’t feel that any time spent reading is wasted. Every book or article is useful, especially those that seem useless or wrong. It is easy to accept that because something is in print, it is correct. Words on a screen change, while words in print may as well be carved in stone. They hold more sway over us psychologically because the are ‘more’ real. If the words are real, then so must be their meaning. It is the job of any good author not only to tell an enjoyable story, but to sway the reader. To convince them of something. This is obvious in some works but more hidden in others. This can be a scary concept to fully grasp. Whether I like it or not, each book I read influences and changes me. Some more so than others. Reading, or perhaps more importantly, reading a large range of material, helps to create a mind that can discern for itself what it deems to be true. To understand each message and to filter and interpret it. I have noticed that I is more open to new ideas, but also better at analyzing ideas. Instead of being swayed by each new theory or idea proposed, I am better equipped to decide and understand for myself. Regaining an awareness I never knew I had lost is the greatest gift that reading has given me. I know there are many more gifts waiting to be found and I now have the ability to search for them.