A reason not to bother reading

Is reading all it’s cracked up to be? Your teachers and parents probably told you it is. Maybe you’re a reader yourself. I want to present you with a case against reading. 

We’re going to start with John. Have you ever misspelt a word or written your instead of you’re? The person who picked you up, that’s John. In his defence, he had an answer for everything. One time he nearly convinced me that I was saying my name wrong. My name is Josh. 

Every time he opened his mouth with a correction, I just wanted to jam it. Still, I admired his knowledge. Who doesn’t want to know more? Learning is like currency, and I wanted more of it. 

One day I was with John, and we met a group of university students. John hit it off with one of the guys, Ryan, and was singing his praise all afternoon. When I had a chance to speak to Ryan, I was shocked. He asked why that tall guy kept arguing with everyone on a topic he knew nothing about. That tall guy was John. 

I soon had the whole story. These students were history majors. John, on the other hand, knew a couple of facts. Enough for a game of trivial pursuit, not an in-depth discussion of early Greek history. But why was John so taken by Ryan, especially after finding out he was wrong? 

Finding out he was wrong. That’s the part that never happened. Ryan wasn’t arguing with John; he was smiling and waving. I could never understand at the time why he listened attentively and with curiosity to what John had to say. That was until I came across a quote.

Never argue with a fool; onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.

Mark Twain

What’s the point of knowledge

John was accumulating knowledge. He was reading all hours of the day. In the end, all his knowledge accounted for nothing. If he remembered even a single self-help book he read, he would know that there’s never a winner in an argument.

John could read every book and would be no better off than having never read a single one. The idea of reading is the same as for life. Each day is about trying to become better. Like life, each book is an aid to living a better life. 

The mistake is to look at books as currency. They don’t work like that. One book read with the right attitude is worth a thousand. We don’t read to collect knowledge; that’s a hard drives job. And if we find ourselves reading to flaunt our knowledge or correct those around us, then we’re nothing more than a poorly referenced Wikipedia article. 

No page is wasted time when you read with no goal other than to live a better life. Knowledge is cheap. It’s understanding how to use that knowledge to live a better life that’s valuable. 

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