1. MatrixGravity
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    MatrixGravity Senior Member

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    How beneficial is reading?

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by MatrixGravity, Jul 30, 2012.

    I used to read when I was younger, but I haven't picked up a book in years mainly because of my lack of attention span. I would like to try and get back into reading. But my main concern is, does reading yield any benefits? If so, what are they? Would reading be beneficial for somebody like me who has the desire to acquire knowledge, etc? Thanks everyone.
     
  2. Berber
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    Berber Active Member

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    I'm hoping this is a hypothetical question. Reading is one of the best ways to gain knowledge beyond hands-on experience. It also expands your vocabulary, sharpens your writing skills, keeps your mind active -- it even reduces stress and improves your memory. A quick internet search will provide you with literally dozens of benefits associated with reading. So do yourself a favor and go pick up a book! ;)

    It's a great habit to get into.
     
  3. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    Garbage in, garbage out. Choose your reading wisely, and you can learn what it is you wish to learn.

    Choose your reading list poorly, and you'll do a fine job of killing time.
     
  4. idyll
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    idyll New Member

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    I feel one can learn something from most any literature. New words, writing structures and ways to write. Even bad pieces can teach you things. You can even learn what NOT to do!
     
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  5. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Reading gives you nothing but benefits. Not reading can do more damage than you know.

    Some people seem to think you can learn to write without reading, and reading well and often. This is one of the stupidest ideas I've ever heard another person say.
     
  6. Scott Berman
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    Scott Berman Member

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    Reading not beneficial!? Reading expands our horizons, educates us often better than the schools, and helps us in becoming articulate sophisticated people. There is a reason why universal literacy is a goal. We would be in a terrible place if reading were to become considered solely an entertaining past-time on the level of television.
     
  7. marktx
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    marktx Contributing Member

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    If you want to write well, you have to read. A lot.

    In fact, if you are hoping to write and you haven't been reading, it's probably a good idea to put the writing on the back burner and the reading on the front burner. Become a reading omnivore. Become voracious. Consume entire volumes of genres that appeal to you. Then try genres that don't appeal to you. Then vacuum up a ton of history, biography, and other non-fiction. Get a library card and use it until the librarians whine that you are wearing out your library cards too fast. Let them whine, and then make them issue you new cards. You are on a mission here. No mercy for the librarians.

    Why? Because as you read (and we're talking serious reading gluttony, gorging at the buffet with both hands and no utensils, pigging out with your face immersed in the book trough), you are absorbing possibilities, styles, influences, modes of thought, turns of phrase, character voices, plot alternatives--in short, you are broadening your range as a writer without even realizing it.

    "Much" is good, "more" is better, and "too much" is the best of all. Even the not-so-great stuff has its uses. Don't worry about whether you're reading junk or greatness. If you're reading enough, the greatness will overwhelm the junk. As long as you are drinking from a fire hose and not a coffee stirring stick, you can't possibly go wrong.

    Treat your reading with the same grace and attention to manners typically displayed by competitive eating champions. That is to say, treat it with absolutely no grace or attention to manners at all.

    Elbow your way to the front of the buffet line and pig out.

    Seriously. Pig out.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you have the desire to acquire knowledge, I can't see how you could do that effectively without reading.
     
  9. PeterC
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    PeterC Active Member

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    I read a large amount of technical non-fiction but until recently I haven't ready any fiction in 30 years. Then I started writing fiction. Even before joining this forum it occurred to me that I should probably read some works in my genre of interest (sci-fi) to at least see what the competition is like. :) So I picked up a copy of Allen Steele's Hex and read that. It was a very enlightening experience.

    One one hand I found Steele doing things I didn't like and I thought, "that's not how I would have handled that." On the other hand I also noticed techniques that were completely new to me and it was like a veil was lifted from my eyes. Overall I didn't think the book was particularly fantastic but I do feel like I learned a lot from it.

    In conclusion, yes, reading is very valuable.
     
  10. MatrixGravity
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    MatrixGravity Senior Member

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    Thanks for the feedback everyone. I definitely see what you're saying. I definitely hope to pick up some books soon. I have some interest in japanese literature, and poetry so hopefully that will be a decent start.
     
  11. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Try Haruki Murakami. You'll not regret it.
     
  12. Chudz
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    Chudz Contributing Member

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    Haruki Murakami was one of my greatest/most frustrating discoveries in literature. Lemex, I think we've both commented on this in the past. (Sorry, haven't been here in years) His stories are mostly a surreal trip, in my opoinion. But the one about the Sarin gas attacks, the title escapes me now but is in a nearby closet, just knifed through me with a straight reallity.
     
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  13. moscowwoah
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    moscowwoah Member

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    If you want to write, you must read, read, read.

    Reading is good. Makes you smarter. Wiser. Good fiction should transport you into another world. Bad fiction will kill a couple of hours.
     
  14. Hettyblue
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    Hettyblue Member

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    My husband writes professionally as a former journalist and now in public sector communications. He does not read for pleasure he reads news papers, policy documents, websites and emails etc etc. He writes extremely well. I would like to see him reading fiction for pleasure but I don't think it is necessary just desirable.

    So matrix if you want to be better informed read newspapers and/ or watch the news. If you want to research a particular subject use the internet and your library. If you have a short attention span try short stories or graphic novels to read for pleasure.

    What would you like to get out of 'reading'?
     
  15. marktx
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    marktx Contributing Member

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    This discussion is blowing my mind a little bit, because I'm getting the underlying vibe that reading is viewed as a "chore" or something that one "ought" to do, at least in some quarters.

    We're writers, aren't we? We live with words and craft things out of word-clay.

    So the notion that we wouldn't be devouring words, playing in the sandboxes that other writers have built, tuning our guitars and riffing off the ideas and insights of those who have jammed-out with word-music before us...well, it seems inconceivable to me.

    Rock-and-rollers listen to rock, blues, country, bluegrass, hip-hop, classical. Painters look at Impressionists, Expressionists, graffiti artists, photographers, and cave-painters. How could it be possible that writers wouldn't be doing exactly the same thing?
     
  16. Youssef Salameh
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    Youssef Salameh Active Member

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    In brief, Reading introduces you to the world's cultures, where you interact with them feel their joys and miseries, and travel with them without boundaries. The book is another friend and teacher that says nothing but truth.
    It encourages you to take the write directions in life by enlightening the mind; that's if apply its words of wisdom.
     
  17. cazann34
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    cazann34 Active Member

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    Reading is good for you for many reasons; its a form of meditation - when we read we use parts of the brain we don't usually use (I read this somewhere) not only do we read the words but we turn it into pictures, it can broadens our vocabulary (I learnt lots of new word through reading), it help our brains work better - when I read my mind rattles on (I get some great ideas for my novel when I'm reading) It can teach us new things, allow us to delve into the peoples minds, it can take us to places we've never been before, it can show us emotions we never felt, it can help with your writing style etc., really the list could go on and on, basically reading is really good for you IMHO.

    Concerning your attention span on reading, I too found reading daunting, when I was younger I found books with anything over 250 pages, put me off, so I stuck to thinner books and gradually build up my concentration span. If that sounds too limiting, just read a couple of pages a day, its still reading and as I've said above it has many benefits.
     
  18. pinelopikappa
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    pinelopikappa Senior Member

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    The lack of attention span usually means too much time online. Reading can be a lost skill if not exercised. Try to get back in shape, because it will only do you good, as everyone said.

    I was shocked by the question though. If there is one axiom in the writing world, it is the value of reading.
     
  19. Velox
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    Velox Senior Member

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    Basically this. There are so many benefits to reading, not the least of which being a greater vocabulary, a sharper mind, and better writing skills. Especially if you are a writer, I think that reading is really crucial. Now, of course there are some people who can write extremely well with reading no books or very little, but even in those cases, reading will always help. Reading not only helps you write better, but it helps you -- it stimulates the brain and gives you a greater vocabulary. These things are extremely useful in everyday life.
     
  20. steve119
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    steve119 Senior Member

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    of course you need to read to gain knowledge where else are you going to get correct information from? certainly not the TV that's for sure. Even searching the internet for knowledge requires reading. Most importantly you are on a writing forum which suggests you want to be a writer. If you want to be a good writer you have to read and read a lot.
     
  21. BritInFrance
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    BritInFrance Active Member

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    Strange isn't it, but I guess that's what makes us different. I hated reading until my primary shcool teacher suggested my mother read Enid Blyton's famous five to me (Enid Blyton has fallen out of favour, I know). She said that I would want to know what happened next SO much that I would pick up the book and read for myself. She was not wrong. I love reading, it takes me to other worlds, other times, and I get into other peoples heads (sometimes it is as scary as it sounds). I enjoy some films, and television too. But nothing compares to getting lost in the world of a book. And that is what made me want to write.
     
  22. geniegirl027
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    geniegirl027 Member

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    Berber,
    I would have to agree with you! It is the best way to expand your mind. It is a great way to keep in touch with your imagination. It definitely helps me expand my vocabulary and write more creatively for my assignments in school. :)
    -Janelle
     
  23. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I don't really like reading. It probably shows in my woeful writing. It bores me. There have been few books that have hooked me enough to read the whole thing. Breakfast at Tiffany's is one, but that's short. I also really liked Three Men in a Raft, a true account of an adventure along the Amazon river.
     
  24. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I find myself wondering if the people who don't read are making the mistake of trying to read the "right" books--something dense and literary that they feel will improve their minds. I'd say that if you're not enjoying what you're trying to read, don't try to force it--go find something fundamentally different, and more fun, and read that instead. Maybe you'll develop a craving for the stuff that you think you "ought" to read, maybe you won't, but either way you'll be reading.
     
  25. Fife
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    Fife Senior Member

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    In the past, I never read very much because [a] as an adolescent, school left a bitter taste in my mouth with the way they assigned books that were of no interest to me and tried to force-feed it; as a child, my parents, for better or worse, did not read and chose instead to enjoy storytelling through movies; and [c] I have always been a video gamer--spending (or wasting) much of my time playing games despite the half-hearted stories they tried to tell.

    As an adult, I have been trying to slow down and get back into reading books. I enjoy reading a little bit more with my eReader--never liked the smell of old, yellow pages that have been touched by so many people.

    My intuition tells me that reading is good for writers, since, if getting published is considered one level of success, the book you read was deemed successful by somebody. There must be something you can learn from it.
     

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