Reading & Books

Issue #19 — 4.9 minute read

👋 Hey phi-lazy-phers

I didn’t appreciate the value of reading when I was younger because I viewed it as work. Thankfully that has changed over the years and now, not only do I love reading, but I love physical books. I like having them around, to the point that I’ve unknowingly been building my own antilibrary.

Still, I occasionally get into reading ruts where I won’t pick up a book for a few weeks. I think this is because we’re taught books are something we have to finish even if it’s boring or repetitive. So when a book becomes less interesting, I stop picking it up but I tell myself I shouldn’t start a new one until I’ve finished that uninteresting one. It wasn’t until I discovered Naval Ravikant’s thoughts on reading that my relationship with it changed.

So on that note, let’s see what some other great thinkers thought about reading.


S. I. Hayakawa

It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.

~~~

Haruki Murakami

If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.

~~~

Cicero

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.

~~~

Harper Lee

Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.

~~~

Edmund Burke

Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting.

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Kenko Yoshida

To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations - such is pleasure beyond compare.

~~~

Naval Ravikant

Feel free to skip around; it’s your book. There are books that I’ve literally started in the middle. I’ve read near to the end and then I’ve put it down...That liberation, that freedom just allows me to read.

~~~

Franz Kafka

We ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn't wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for?

~~~

Jonathan Franzen

The first lesson reading teaches is how to be alone.

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Cicero

Read at every wait; read at all hours; read within leisure; read in times of labor; read as one goes in; read as one goes out. The task of an educated mind is simply put: read to lead.

~~~

Descartes

The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest minds of past centuries.

~~~

Anonymous

Never make fun of someone if they mispronounce a word. It means they learned it by reading.

~~~

Virginia Woolf

Few people ask from books what books can give us. Most commonly we come to books with blurred and divided minds, asking of fiction that it shall be true, of poetry that it shall be false, of biography that it shall be flattering, of history that it shall enforce our own prejudices. If we could banish all such preconceptions when we read, that would be an admirable beginning. Do not dictate to your author; try to become him.


The point of this is to encourage us all to read in whatever way makes us happy. It should be something we enjoy, rather than a chore. It’s easy to forget reading was only available to society’s elites for much of history. Nowadays, if I want to read about house plants, a quick search will bring up tens of thousands of books and articles to choose from. So if you find yourself in a reading rut like me, try one of these two techniques:

1. Open an unread book/article and begin skimming until you find something interesting.
2. Open a book/article you’ve already read and begin skimming until there is something you want to revisit.

~~~

✌️ Until next week, happy philosophizing.


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