“The second suggestion is to think as well as to read. I know people who read and read, and for all the good it does them they might just as well cut bread-and-butter. They take to reading as better men take to drink. They fly through the shires of literature on a motor-car, their sole object being motion. They will tell you how many books they have read in a year. Unless you give at least 45 minutes to careful, fatiguing reflection (it is an awful bore at first) upon what you are reading, your 90 minutes of a night are chiefly wasted.”
– Arnold Bennett, How to live on 24 hours a day
I wouldn’t want to be pompous and announce that I know of several people who challenge themselves to read a certain number of books every year, but I must admit that I have never really understood the point. Sometimes, I re-read certain lines, chapters, or whole sections of books, simply because as time passes, I gain, dare I say, a bit of maturity that allows me to appreciate certain nuances of the writing and expression better, or even grasp the ideas with a little more empathy than I could have allowed at a previous instance. It is a very fulfilling experience to feel the exhilaration of understanding- whether it be an idea or a person, because eventually it only means that you understand a certain aspect about yourself- your opinion, your judgment, the possible hypocrisy of your claim to open-mindedness…
Eitherhow, this was a fantastic… read? Well, I happened to listen to the audiobook– that’s something that I do these days. Not every book needs to be read, I feel, because reading to me is to acknowledge a certain beauty in the way the words are strung together. However, I do have regard for the message, and that’s led me to recognize the art of storytelling as well. Audiobooks are wonderful for a person like me, who is trying to understand tone – why? That’s for another post.
Anyhow, I rambled. I listened to it in parts, two nights in a row before falling asleep. Let’s just say that these are the sort of ‘self-help’ books that I like. I’m not sure if I prefer calling it a self-help at all; seems more like a conversation with a wise, articulate person instead. The book draws from Bennett’s experience and perception of the world, and holds the recipient of the information in highest regard by not mocking at their tastes or choices. It, in fact, simply introduces them to possibilities by merely expanding on their comfort level. I suspect this to be lacking in ‘self-help’s these days.
Moreover, I feel that the book does not merely try to offer advice to people. It takes on the tone of sharing a secret that Bennett has chanced upon as he lived and aged. I particularly liked the various works he mentions along the way; I intend to follow through with all of his suggestions. Perhaps the book would regain popularity if it were to be released with the tagline of ‘hacking time’ or such.