Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development … a platform for democratization … for everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right … Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman, and child can realize his or her full potential. -Kofi Annan, Ghanaian diplomat, seventh secretary-general of the United Nations, 2001 Nobel Peace Prize
This past week, my family and I visited Prague’s lovely Strahov Monastery and its extravagant libraries. It was not the first time I had been there, but it was the first time I was able to see the Philisophical Hall, post-reconstruction. It is astounding, holding 42,000 volumes within its cases alone.
Being in libraries so significant, with books and knowledge dating back many centuries, I can’t help but imagine what our world would be without the writers of those books, and without the people who have lived out and carried on the knowledge which they have read. To read is to grow, in the grandest of all forms.
2011 has brought with it the full clean slate that I love with a new year. Along with the multitudes, I made goals for myself for the coming year, along with a day-by-day way to tackle those goals … because without a daily plan, a goal isn’t achievable. I have a goal for my physical health, for my writing, for my travel hopes, and for time with family. But maybe one of the most important goals I make each year is the goal toward improved thinking — toward exercising the mind and reducing mental flab.
Just like the saying goes: we are what we eat, the same goes for: we are what we read.
What sort of reading do you do in your daily life?
I’m a firm believer in the notion that knowledge is power. In societies where freedoms have been stripped away, reading is the one that causes the society to suffer the most. Because where people are out of shape menatlly, they easily become dependent on the thinking of others — upon the thoughts and opinions that float around on the popular wind. Rather than dealing with issues and different ideas, people who don’t read and train their minds to think reduce their lives to become full of rules, regulations, and programs.
But for a person who reads and broadens their mind, they have the important and powerful ability to gather information and form their own opinion and decisions. They can be independent of the stifling inability to think of the masses. The reader is able to listen to differing views, remain open-minded, and form an identity for themselves.
Example Goals for Growth through Reading
- Have an easy answer for “What are you reading lately?”
- Have at least one good book going at all times, if possible.
- Set aside one hour per day for reading.
- Keep a journal of important ideas found in reading.
Whether it is on a Kindle, iPad, or through the pages of a beloved physical book, we can learn and grow and thrive. We can move rapidly toward hope, as Kofi Annan so eloquently says. We can not only move ourselves toward a better year, but toward a much improved self. All through reading.
A few good sites to find great books to read:
BookScreening.com: A new way to find a book– through watching its book trailer. Like watching a movie trailer, a book trailer shows the viewer the essence of the book in a minute’s worth of video. I hope this is an up and coming way to find a good book, and that more sites will catalog their books with the trailers (like Amazon) in a convenient book-searching format.
Amazon.com: the gargantuan site for finding books, buying books, and just about everything else having to do with books. Always a favorite. And my book at Amazon.com (click here), in case you’re looking for a daily inspirational to start reading in 2011.
Starting the Conversation: What book have you wanted to read for a long time? When can you fit reading into your daily schedule? Do you have a favorite website or source for finding good books?