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Reading 📖


I like to read. Well, as an adult, I "read" more audio than text.

What is "reading"?

By read I mean consume stories, originally written in novel form. There is plenty of text that I read throughout my day, but most of it is written for articles or messages, not to tell a (long) story. Regardless, it is my opinion that audio books are just as valid as paper books. It is also my opinion that digital books are also just as valid. I do not understand the hate that e-readers or audio book listeners get. It just seems so holier-than-thou that it's almost satirical.

I say this, as I write in neovim. But I don't spurn people who use other text editors or IDEs. Or at least I don't spurn them outside my own thoughts, lol.

What do I read?

Nowadays I mostly read Sci-Fi, but I've also been reading some fantasy. There are a ton of good books, and here is (most of) my past couple of years in books:




Why should people read?

Reading is fun. It's a way to explore an alternate universe, and to challenge your mind. When I was young, I read all kinds of books. Plain old fiction was my go-to choice, any and all of them. I remember reading Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli and being absolutely floored. It was my first foray into the history of WWII, and it was visceral. I felt like I knew what it was like to grow up as a street urchin in Warsaw when in reality I was an average American boy.

Not only is reading an exploration, but it really allows a young mind to understand how others think and feel. This is something I feel a lot of adults don't think about, either. An example of how the average person doesn't think about others actual lives is The Fundamental Attribution problem.

As an example of the behavior which attribution error theory seeks to explain, consider the situation where Alice, a driver, is cut off in traffic by Bob. Alice attributes Bob's behavior to his fundamental personality; e.g., He thinks only of himself, he is selfish, he is an unskilled driver. She does not think it is situational; e.g., He is going to miss his flight, his wife is giving birth at the hospital, his daughter is convulsing at school.

This is something that everyone struggles with, but I think reading helps a person see from others' perspectives.

Why do I read?

I read for the reasons given above. Exploring the universes created in books is not "an escape." I strongly dislike that phrase. People should not hide in their books. Rather, they should seek ways to change their surroundings with things they learn in books. That seems rather idealistic, though. Of course people will hide in their books. Imagine the young children of whichever war-torn land reading Harry Potter. They're certainly reading because they want an escape from the horror of their everyday. I should just say that I, personally, do not read to escape. I read to explore. To imagine worlds where something that is impossible today could happen. Or just where something plain old impossible could happen.

And then, on top of the reading, I love theorizing on my own time what could happen next. Sanderson's Cosmere books are a great examplef for this. The Cosmere has Laws, similar to our universe's laws, but with magic. The more I learn about the Cosmere, the more excited I become about the series based in it, since I understand what X thing meant, or what it means that Y has Z. And it's even more rewarding when I turn out to be correct. This exploration into what could be is what I love most about reading, or at least lately it has been. Sanderson's works are excellent for this.

I also like to read to explore potential societal constructs that are incongruous with the life I've experienced in the capitalist era. KSR's books are so, so, so excellent in this regard. His original Mars Trilogy posits an evolution of the current feudal-capitalist system, one which codifies equality and the value of the worker. Then, his later works, like 2312, explore similar ideas and how Earth could be moved to them. KSR gets more and more direct with his novels, with his most recent fiction novel, The Ministry for Future, only being set in the very near future instead of centuries away. After reading so many of KSR's books, and loving them all, I had to read his love letter to the Sierra Mountains. And that non-fiction book was amazing. It's now on my TODO list to visit the Sierras, and to go backpacking on my own newly defined trail.

Social Aspects of Reading

There was a period of time, mostly high school, where I didn't do much reading at all. I told myself I was too busy, but that wasn't true. I don't know what caused it specifically, but it had certainly happened. And I didn't pick it back up for until after fall of sophomore year of university. My Diff. Eq. instructor and I somehow got on the topics of books. He highly recommended The Expanse series, and I told him I would check it out. He then kept asking how I liked it, so I was forced to read it. After reading the first book I flew through the rest of the novels that were out at the time.

And it was a lot different than it was when I was young. When I was young, not many of my peers would read the same books as me, and that was fine. I would read my books, maybe take an Accelerated Reader test on it, and then move on. I wouldn't discuss the things I had read very often, if at all.

Now, though, I was talking all about the story with someone. They had their own theories and ideas and it was so exciting! Every since then I've made an effort to find someone else who is interested in the things I'm reading, solely so I can discuss it with them. It's so fun to share thoughts and ideas about the text. This continued til today, where I discuss all of the books I'm reading with my coworkers who are also interested in the topics and genres I am.

I've never used the internet for sharing my thoughts on books, beyond the occasional comment on Reddit if a series was mentioned. With the migration off Reddit, however, I have been tempted to check out something like GoodReads. GoodReads, though, is owned by Amazon and seems to have been mostly abandoned by them. After leaving Reddit, and joining a Lemmy instance, though, I was checking out things on the Fediverse. I found BookWyrm and it seems to be a promising alternative. I've registered, and started filling in some of my profile. I hope it continues to grow! It feels odd using a social media (honestly at all, I've never been someone who posts statuses to FaceBook or tweets to Twittr or anything, really) but I'll try to keep updates coming. Kinda like these posts, actually.