(This post is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here!)
This week’s blog post is a little late – my sincere apologies! I’ve been busy with summer activities and am in the process of writing a book! Thank you for your patience this week. I had a comment last week that the post and questions were too time consuming. Fair enough! I’ll admit it was a little esoteric. This week’s topic is more down to earth.
This week’s journal topic: Reading
If you passed elementary school, then you’re surely literate. But maybe you still don’t know much about reading. Knowing what and why you’re reading will allow you to better focus your efforts by choosing the correct reading technique for your purpose. There are three kinds of reading: reading for pleasure, reading for information, and reading for enlightenment. (In Mortimer Adler’s fantastic book, How To Think About The Great Ideas, he discusses the second two.)
Reading for Pleasure
For many people, pleasurable reading refers to reading fiction. When reading fiction, we use our imaginations to travel to otherwise inaccessible places, gain insight into human psychology, and live in fantasy worlds. Many fiction novels transport the reader out of his or her mundane life and into an experience of freedom that isn’t immediately available in real life. The characters do the things we want to do and say the things we want to say. Good fiction increases our command of language. Reading fiction for pleasure is generally the “easiest” type of reading (although the length or language of the book might be a challenge).
Reading for Information
When we read for information, we’re collecting facts and useful insights. School teaches us to read for information in order to pass exams. When we read for information, we often don’t retain what we read, unless we use the information immediately. Reading for information is essentially an exercise in memorization, and therefore, it’s difficult. Most people don’t find reading for information fun, but it is a necessary and useful skill.
Reading for Enlightenment
Reading for enlightenment is what relatively few of us do because it’s difficult. (When I read for enlightenment, I always use a pen and mark the pages.) It starts with reading something you don’t already understand. The book is beyond the scope of your knowledge and the author is explaining something you don’t know. It’s different from reading for information because you aren’t memorizing facts, but instead you’re trying to understand the topic. It’s different than reading for pleasure, because in reading for pleasure you’re main purpose isn’t to learn something.
Key mental activities required for reading for enlightenment: noting and interpreting key terms, seeing relationships between concepts, finding the author’s main point, reflecting on your own experience, and asking questions. When you are interested in a topic, these activities can be quite pleasurable!
- Do you read everyday? What do you read?
- What do you read for pleasure?
- Why do you find certain literature pleasurable to read?
- What do you read for information?
- How does reading for information help you in society? (Positive and negative consequences of knowing a lot of facts?)
- What do you read for enlightenment?
- What do you think happens to people who only read for pleasure? For information? For enlightenment?
How to Get the most out of Know Thyself 2019:
Don’t rush through the questions. Do one question every day, leaving space to add thoughts later as you learn and evolve. The journal is designed to help you develop a consistent, daily practice of self-reflection.
If you liked this week’s topic, please offer me a like or a comment! I’m writing a book, so if you’re interested in that, email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to get on my email list for the release! I love to hear your opinions about the topics and find out what you find helpful. Remember to subscribe with WordPress or an email address so you don’t miss out on future posts! Thank you so much!