Physicists speculate about a possible parallel universe beyond what we can see with our senses. But there is no need to break the barrier of time and space to look for such a universe. It is already accessible to anyone right here and now — provided one knows how to read books. Inside the pages of books lie universes that can be so awesome and fantastic. The possibilities of existence are limited only by the human imagination.
The scientist and author Carl Sagan wrote:
“Books . . . permit us to interrogate the past with high accuracy; to tap the wisdom of our species; to understand the point of view of others, and not just those in power; to contemplate — with the best teachers — the insights, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, drawn from the entire planet and from all of our history. They allow people long dead to talk inside our heads. Books can accompany us everywhere. Books are patient where we are slow to understand, allow us to go over the hard parts as many times as we wish, and are never critical of our lapses.” (The Demon-Haunted World, pp. 335-6)
One of the greatest gifts my mother gave to me was the love of reading. I can’t imagine what I would be now if I didn’t appreciate reading books. Biographies, histories, sciences, the mysteries of the mind, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, spirituality, God or gods, Big Bang, black holes — all those things that are beyond the scope of what we can personally experience or what other people can personally tell us about. All those would have been unknown to me if I did not learn how to read. How rich and wonderful life has become just because of books!
In our school, I encourage all teachers and students to read. It is the doorway not just to an interesting and abundant life, but it is also a very important key to success in life. I have interviewed countless applicants in our companies, and I invariably find that the people who have the most potential are those who love reading, particularly when they apply as teachers. They can rise up to higher responsibilities because they understand things more deeply and have wider comprehension of things. They can learn by themselves without depending on another person. They absorb the lessons of life of other people. They have insights about society, politics, history, science, or philosophy and apply in them in their life, work and mission.
Bill Gates, for a long time the richest man in the world, reads one book a week. Warren Buffett, the second or third richest man, spends 80% of his time reading.
Carl Sagan cites a survey of the US Department of Education on the difference between readers and non-readers:
“Only four per cent of those at the highest reading level are in poverty, but 43 per cent of those at the lowest reading level are. . . . In general the better you read, the more you make — an average of about $12,000 a year at the lowest of these reading levels, and about $34,000 a year at the highest.” (Ibid., p. 336)
Parents should introduce to their toddlers the wonderful world of books by telling them stories and showing them pictures in books. Bring children to bookstores and allow them to choose what they like to read.
When my children were still young, we would go out every week and our favorite place to go was National Bookstore. They were free to buy what they wanted within the limits of a certain budget. But if they bought books, then there was no limit to their budget. This nurtured in them an interest in reading.
Some may say that smart and talented people may succeed without reading books. Yes, that’s possible, but quite improbable in the modern world where technology, knowledge and information have burgeoned astronomically. It has been estimated that knowledge in the world doubles every 13 months, whereas it was every 100 years in 1900. Without reading, it is impossible to catch up with essential knowledge.
IQ or intelligence quotient rises up with reading. This is not just because of additional knowledge but also because of the increase in one’s vocabulary. Every time that we learn a new concept found in a word, the brain creates new neural connections that will adapt to the new idea. An example is the term singularity when we speak about black holes. Something in the brain must adjust in order to appreciate this new concept. Another is the word “paradigm.”When we try to understand these words, we understand additional dimensions of existence, not simply things like tables and chairs. I recently finished the new novel of Dan Brown entitled Origin. It is an awesome blend of science and fiction and it widened my intellectual horizons in a direction I hardly considered before.
Read at least 30 minutes to one hour everyday, no matter how busy you are. Always bring a book or ebook with you, read it or them while you are traveling by bus or train, when you are waiting for something, or before you go to sleep. Look up every new word that you encounter. Share with other people new ideas that you have read. Let your reading help you build a productive and meaningful life.