Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Living More Than OK by Successful Reading
Before taking a break from my blog for a week of rest in Alaska I was wondering what to write about this week. Through a library loan I was able to track down a book on reading I had been searching for, Successful Reading: Key to Our Dynamic Society by Maxwell H. Norman. So in keeping with some of my recent discussions on reading I will share some important thoughts from his book. This book has helped me select the books I am taking on our cruise.
In the preface he points out that the need for reading has grown as knowledge in the world has expanded. From a career standpoint he states that many of us may do several career shifts so there is a continual need to learn and grow in new knowledge areas. Reading brings flexibility to our lives and the ability to cope better with the continual changes. One timely thought even though the book was printed in 1968 he speaks of the importance of a strong democracy depends on a literate society for citizens to make sound critical thinking decisions. I mention this concept in my book Living More Than OK in my critical thinking chapter. We can only improve the society for the better by rational understanding of facts and issues and making sound decisions instead of irrational emotionalism that guides the Alinsky type tactics found in our present government. The present administration just reacts to chaos not letting a crisis go to waste instead of critical thinking to solve problems.
Norman views the successful reader as the students who do not complain about their reading assignments or the business people who know the importance of keeping up with business journals. To him these readers see how, “Books can provide escape from the monotony of everyday existence… they taste the joys frustrations of the laboratory and the creative thinking of great minds” (page 2). There is a great love for all literature and understanding of the importance of reading in self-growth which I believe is the basis of being a Bookhead.
In the successful reader there is seen in his text three characteristics that he keeps considering throughout the book. The first is that the readers have a purpose driving their reading. There is a reason behind why they are reading. Then that progresses to the characteristic of concentration. The reader with a purpose can better focus his or her mind in their reading. This improves the third characteristic of comprehension. Reading is not just to glance mindlessly at pages of words. With the purpose in mind linked to the power of the mind’s focusing powers we better understand what we are reading for a meaningful reading experience.
As to the purpose that varies on the types of material we are reading. The examples that Norman presents are on a Summer day reading a thriller novel as an enjoyable escape for the mind. James Patterson novels come to my mind as an example of this type of reading. A strong reader may go through 200 pages of a novel in one evening with this purpose of reading. Then Norman switches to a purpose of a student having to read for Philosophy a short reading of Aristotle’s Ethics. This will probably take just as long as the novel but with reading much fewer pages to fully understand the information for a class. It all depends on the purpose. I know my journal article reading for my PhD classes take longer to read than a lighter novel or non-fiction book for pleasure.
The emphasis of the book is reading for learning. This learning is not just in the scholastic sense but reading to learn because of curiosity of various aspects of the world such as history, technology, social issues, and philosophy. There is also reading for pleasure and relaxing. This is using reading to escape the boredom of everyday life and exploring topics of interest in books and magazines or expanding your creative mind in the vast array of fiction novels. Norman also speaks of reading for personal growth and self-understanding. This is the area of reading where my book, Living More Than OK fits into with a desire for individuals to grow in various aspects of their lives.
His encouragement at the end of the book is to build a reading program into our weekly time schedule. To the question of busy people who say when can I find time to read he responds. “The basic answer to this question is a philosophical one, a deliberate decision on your part, a determination of values. Can you afford not to read?” (page 134). If you can read 30 minutes a day that is 3 ½ hours a week. In a month that equates to about 14 hours to read. Then in a year that would be about 168 hours of reading. Think through how that investment of time could improve your creative and critical thinking. Think how that investment may help you in your career by having greater knowledge. It all boils down to our personal choices in how we use our time. Mortimer Adler is quoted in the book on his thoughts on reading, “Reading … is a basic tool in living of a good life.” ( page 160). I would go beyond that by saying that reading is a core tool in the continual Living More Than OK experience to help us keep Spiraling Up To Abundant Living.
Reflection: Do you believe reading can be of help in living a successful life? Do you think about your purpose when reading a book? What do you think of the question “Can you afford not to read”? How could an increase in reading by everyone improve the world we live in?