I have been reading, continuously, for almost 30 years. There have been some lulls in the journey, but I don’t think I have ever gone a full year without reading a book.
I’ve read amazing novels, biographies, and a plethora of scientific and mathematical books (my favorite genre), but I’ve also read some downright awful books – long, winded, seemingly never-ending, like those nightmares where you try to escape only to find yourself deeper in the hole. For a long time, I thought about it as mere coincidence, a bad choice, an isolated case. Then I had a profound breakthrough.
I’m certain you’ve heard about the ego. The voice in your head. The one that tells you to do this but not that, that you are this but not that, that you should be better, smarter, wiser, more physically fit. I call it the anti-you, because, it seems, it is always fighting or working against you. Well, it turns out this ego, this diametrically opposed persona also likes to read, and as you may imagine, it has a peculiar taste in literature.
The ego likes to read what it thinks you should read, those books that will make you seem smarter and gifted. It is a deceiving little rascal. It is the reason why you often find yourself with a book in hand that you seemingly hate, wondering if you should drop it and feel like a failure for never finishing it or rushing through it in abject desperation.
Some books are plain bad. Period. You thought you would love it and you didn’t. Fair enough. But in many cases, you didn’t make the choice yourself, the ego did.
So if you’d like to stop the nonsense go back to your roots. Look deep within your core and find what drives you forward, what makes you feel passionate, and follow that trail of light to grab the books you know you will enjoy; the ones that will make you joyful, that will instill wonderment. Stop listening to the ego. It may have illusions of grandeur, but it doesn’t want the best for you, I assure you of that.
Think about this next time you’re trying, for the fourteenth time, to get through The Canterbury Tales. And no offense to anyone because I love The Canterbury Tales.
Or maybe, just maybe, this is my ego speaking…
Featured picture by @jesyelyse
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We all read for different reasons. For some, literature is an escape, a set of destinations bound to be discovered, and akin to reality, understood and appreciated in manifold ways. For others, reading is an exercise, the means to an end of mental expansion and enhanced self-worth.