“I was made for the library, not the classroom. The classroom was a jail of other people’s interest. The library was open, unending, free.”
—Ta-Nehisi Paul Coates, American author and journalist
Image from Unsplash by Susan Q Yin
Thinking back over my education, I seem to have lived two lives. Up to and through college, I was a classroom kid — following the rules, studying for each test, pursuing good grades — to become what society called a success. At the time, my SAT scores and GPA were all that mattered, with, of course, the right extra-curricular activities and work experiences.
Cracking a book that was not required reading or (Heaven forbid!) reading a book for pleasure could never compete with playing with friends or watching TV.
Years after traditional school was over, I discovered the wonderful world of books in which I could explore any interest that suited me. Suddenly, I couldn’t get enough of the knowledge and wisdom packed into all the treasures they held.
Examine your own educational journey. Where and how have your classrooms and libraries influenced your life so far?
How do you intend to continue your education from this point forward?
Please reply to this post with a few books that have opened up your world and set you free.
“Reading can teach you the best of what others already know. Reflection can teach you the best of what only you can know.”
—James Clear, author, entrepreneur, and photographer
Image from Unsplash by Ben White
How are reading and reflecting a bit like eating and digestion?
Depending on what you read, you may consume both good and not so good nutrients. Just like reading the labels on packaged foods, we all need to be more discerning as to what we take into our minds as well as our bodies.
With many having made resolutions to be healthier and fit in 2021, we could all more carefully reflect on concepts worthy of digesting and assimilating into our lives.
How would greater selectivity in your reading and far more thoughtful reflection help you lead a more wonderful and wiser life?
“Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.”
—Sir Francis Bacon, 16th Century Lord Chancellor of England
Image from Unsplash by Thought Catalog
I have a math problem for you on the subject of books. According to Google’s advanced algorithms, about 130 million books have been published in all of modern history.
Consider multiplying 130 million by the number of hours it takes you to read an average book, giving your reading speed. To keep it simple, let’s assume it takes you ten hours. Multiply 130 million by ten and you see that it would take you one billion, three hundred thousand hours to read all the books published in modern history.
Now let’s pretend you began reading at birth, and that, given advanced medical breakthroughs, you live to be 100.
If my math is correct, it would take 876,000 lifetimes to read them all – far more if you took time to sleep, work, eat, or do anything other than read.
As you examine your book tasting efforts, which new books, or perhaps a few oldies but goodies, are worth your valuable time in the years ahead?
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
—Dr. Seuss, pen name of Theodor Seuss Geisel
Image from youtube
I am a big fan of Dr. Seuss. I love the idea of imparting wisdom through his unique and colorful characters and stories. Today’s quote is from I Can Read With My Eyes Shut. A few more of my favorite Suess-ful nuggets of wisdom are:
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
“You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
“Today was good, today was fun, tomorrow will be another one.”
“If you see someone without a smile today, give them one of yours.”
—Dolly Parton, American singer, songwriter, and actress
Image from Amazon
How much time each day do you spend reading for enjoyment and personal growth? For many people the answer may be, “Not much,” with the add-on phrase, “Who has the time?”
If this is the case for you, or even if reading is a significant part of your daily routine, I suggest a wonderful smile-inducing book called, Be the Sun Not the Salt by Dr. Harry D. Cohen.
A key concept he shares is the idea of being heliotropic, which is the tendency for all living systems to be drawn to the energy that sustains its life. Throughout the 71 pages of this book, I hope you will find yourself nodding and smiling at its many nuggets of wisdom.
How and in what ways can you be more heliotropic and a more positive influence on others in your life?
Consider sharing a big genuine smile with others as a good place to start.
“To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.”
—Edmund Burke, 18th Century Irish Statesman
Image from Flickr by Sebastien Wiertz
Think back to your biology or life science classes in high school. How much do you recall about the central nervous system, the cardiovascular system, or in the case of today’s quote, the digestive system?
The journey a single bite of food takes from our mouth, into and through the stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and colon takes somewhere between 18 and 24 hours.
What do you think would happen if the length of digestion time were cut in half, and food was processed in 9 to 12 hours instead? What percent of the vital nutrients would be available to nourish our bodies?
Consider speed reading, executive book summaries, the classic CliffNotes or Monarch notes – and even Twitter – as ways we short-cut the learning process. What valuable nuggets of wisdom are being missed or lost through the use of short-cuts?
Where specifically would greater reflection on the materials you are currently reading make the biggest difference?
Consider re-reading one of your most highly prized and valuable books from your past. Read it slowly, with the intent of digesting and teaching the most important lessons to a class composed of people you know would benefit the most.
Please let me know which book you would re-read, and what you discovered in the process.
“Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.”
—Mason Cooley, Late American Aphorist
Photo by Laëtitia Buscaylet on Unsplash
My mother, Rose, was the most avid reader I’ve ever known. As a boy, I would frequently go with her to the library where, every three weeks, she would pick a new batch of 12 books. She devoured them every evening after dinner.
I recall her frustration on one occasion, in that she could not find, in our small local library, enough books of interest that she had not already read.
Although she was never a world traveler or college graduate, she took countless trips with her vivid imagination – wherever her written portals to adventure would take her.
Consider visiting your local library or bookstore to pick up a book that will take you on a great adventure, from the comfort of your favorite chair.
“The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones.”
—Joseph Joubert, 19th Century French Essayist
Image from Flickr by Saimad
Because I am heavily invested in personal and professional development, I am always on the lookout for the next ground-breaking book. I thrive on new ideas and the concept of finding a better way to improve the world.
If you are like me, you sometimes find new books a bit of a letdown in that they often repackage old ideas in ways that fall short of the originals.
Consider a Google search on this phrase:
The greatest ___________ books of all time. Fill in the blank with whatever types of books you value and enjoy most.