For thousands of years, reading has been considered a worthy activity and books were and still are highly valued. Books are conduits of individual or collective ideas. This is the reason why, thousands of years ago, some books were praised while others were subjected to being burned—often together with their authors. However, nowadays in an ever-accelerating pace of life, people experience a lack of time for such an intellectual activity as reading books—though it is still valued, even if unconsciously. The general population are content with the raw, cursory stories provided by the television and other mass media (Hobbes 45). In its turn, reading books has been an activity that contributes to personality development and is difficult to overestimate.
When perceiving information that is already processed and digested, one cannot develop crucial traits that reading induces, such as critical thinking, erudition, and imagination (Hobbes 365). Critical thinking is perhaps the most essential faculty of the mind, since it implies the ability to decide what to believe and what to ignore. This skill is especially useful in the modern world where a surplus of information exists. Without critical thinking, a person is more likely to take what they are exposed to for granted. When reading, people start interpersonal communication, constantly analyzing and reflecting on the material, applying it to themselves, and finally forming an opinion towards the comprehended data. At the same time, media often transmits information in a predetermined way, thus impeding individuals from interpreting it.
Erudition means extensive knowledge. It is another key trait a person can develop with the help of reading books. It is one of the major factors that make people interesting. Erudition helps to establish communication, since an erudite person can keep a conversation on a wide range of topics. Being a polymath also means knowing how to act in unusual situations, or at least implies general familiarity with them. For example, a person fond of reading adventure novels may put on a bold face if lost in the woods, and from the literature they read, they can learn basic knowledge on how to survive in the woods.
Reading also develops and boosts imagination, which is one of those traits needed in all spheres of life. Imagination is a capability to form sensations even when they are not perceived through the senses. It is a factor of creativity that is closely linked to the ability to prognosticate the consequences of making decisions, developing inventions, or creating art work. Reading enhances imagination, since a reader has to envisage characters, places, and events depicted in the book. Obviously, television cannot contribute to this skill, since it transmits images that were prepared in advance—hence, depriving one’s mind from mental development.
Based on the aforementioned arguments, the benefits of reading can be easily seen. Its role in the development of an individual can hardly be overestimated. People who have a solid intellectual ability are more intriguing to communicate with, more creative, and they experience little or no difficulties when forming and expressing their own opinions. As for me, I prefer reading to perceiving already processed information. I do not mean that watching TV or browsing the Internet are worthless occupations. On the contrary, valuable and useful information can be found by the means of modern media. It is just a matter of balance. Watching only TV can make you dull and reading too much can make you over-intellectual. Personally, I would recommend that everyone read at least one new book per month and then, after a period of time, evaluate any changes that have occurred in their world outlook. I am sure these shifts will definitely occur and they will be positive.
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