Last year I fell short again of my goal of reading 50 books in a year.
It’s a lofty goal I have reached only a few times, but one that stretches me, which is a good thing. One of the reasons I fell short last year was I spent entirely too much time reading the news. I sometimes spent an hour consuming the news on my iPhone before I got out of bed in the morning.
Sure, some of that reading was focused on COVID-19 and the pandemic, which was useful in my job, but much of my reading was also about current events, and sometimes about celebrities, the Kardashians included.
And here’s the thing, when I finished reading the news, I never felt I had accomplished anything of any importance. I was up-to-date on the events of the day, but the next day there would be a new set of events, and I would repeat the process, taking the click bait of interesting and usually misleading headlines, and gleaning facts of no particular usefulness.
Late into the year, when I realized how much time I was spending on the news and how few books I had read, I began using the time to read books rather than the news. When I did I was invigorated and engaged at a different depth than when I was scanning headlines for something interesting to read. Whether I was reading a biography or a work of history, I was accumulating ideas, piecing together ideas, concepts, and theories.
What I discovered was nothing new. Twenty-five hundred years ago, Socrates said, “Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, and weak minds discuss people.” Because reading is cognitive conversation, Socrates might have also rightly said, “Strong minds read books, average minds read the news, and weak minds read People Magazine.”
So, what are you reading? GS