Why we should read books?


Book lovers in Mogadishu, Somalia

“There is, perhaps, one universal truth about all forms of human cognition: the ability to deal with knowledge is hugely exceeded by the potential knowledge contained in man’s environment. To cope with this diversity, man’s perception, his memory, and his thought processes early become governed by strategies for protecting his limited capacities from the confusion of overloading. We tend to perceive things schematically, for example, rather than in detail, or we represent a class of diverse things by some sort of averaged “typical instance.” -JEROME S. BRUNER, Art as a Mode of Knowing

I read a great article called “HOW ART CAN DEFEAT BOREDOM AND LONELINESS” by Eva Hoffman in the Literary Hub. I thought the article could have been better titled “why we should read books” Here are some excerpts from the article:

To understand our experience, we need to look inwards. But our mental and imaginative resources would soon be exhausted if they were not replenished by looking outwards, and engaging imaginatively with the external world. Our minds and selves need nourishment, as much as our bodies; and if leisure has sometimes been seen as the foundation of culture, it is because it allows for the cultivation not only of self-knowledge, but of what might be called non-instrumental knowledge and non-productive aspects of the self: a disinterested curiosity, the capacity for aesthetic appreciation, the need for wonder. If we are to remain internally and intellectually alive, we need to make time not only for introspection but for imaginative exploration—for following our intellectual predilections, say, or our aesthetic impulses, without keeping an eye on the outcome or the specific goal”

…Why should we take the time to sit down with a “long-form” text (as it is sometimes called, in distinction to those default digital forms) and give it the requisite number of hours?

…But the fundamental reason for taking the time to read is because books (good books, that is; books that matter) are the best aid to extended thought and imaginative reflection we have invented. In our own time, this is particularly important, as an antidote to the segmentation of thought encouraged by digital technologies. Cruising among the infinite quanta of data oered on the internet is ne for nding out information; but the disparate fragments we look at on our various screens rarely cohere into continuous thought, or a deepening of knowledge. For us, it is part of the value added by—and the importance of—books that they require us to focus our attention and to slow down our mental time; to follow the thread of thought or argument until new insight or knowledge is reached. Read the whole article


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