Reading is the cognitive process of understanding a written linguistic message (WordNet). And cognition refers to the psychological result of perception and learning and reasoning.
Depending on the type of written linguistic message, reading has the ability to influence someone’s thinking. The power of reading lies in its inherent ability to bring about a positive change in human behavior.
The emphasis here is on constant reading not just being able to read. It is said that a person who doesn’t read is not better than another who cannot read.
The Importance of Reading for Everyday Life
It’s hard to imagine life in the present-day without being able to read. Almost all the appliances required for human comfort come with instruction manuals that users are warned to read before operating. Medical drugs come with prescriptions that users are expected to read before ingesting.
All correspondence between service providers and consumers are premised on the ability of the consumer to read.
If you walk or drive on the highway, the road signs you see are premised on your ability to read.
The use of one of the most innovative invention of the century – the Internet – will be a nightmare to anybody who’s unable to read.
Reading is therefore so basic to living that being unable to read will constitute a major handicap to a good life.
Benefits of reading
Reading is critical to survival. Some of the points mentioned above allude to this fact. Beyond that, the human race is one of the longest surviving creatures on earth because of its adaptive behaviour acquired through learning. Our survival over the years is a function of our ability to pass information from one generation to another, mainly through written materials. No other life forms can do this.
Reading facilitates learning. Learning in turn facilitates critical thinking which brings about growth-oriented actions. Therefore, reading can be said to be the bedrock of growth and development of nations. Someone said, “Early in life we learn to read and later we read to learn.” That statement underscores the high correlation of between reading and learning.
Often people use the term education as the foundation of growth and development. However, when education is broken down to its essence, you find reading at its core. Your ability to read is critical evidence that you got an education.
Whereas formal education is for a definite time-period, reading is a life-long activity. In fact, without constant reading the human ability to reap the benefits of formal education is severely hampered.
Reading facilitates deliberate gathering of valuable experiences. The more valuable experiences you have the more quickly you can make progress in life. This is because progress in life has a lot to do with awareness, pattern recognition and problem solving. These are issues that your experiences stand you in good stead to deal with promptly and move forward.
It’s good advice to make use of other people’s experiences because the average life expectancy is too short for anyone to rely on his personal experiences alone to effectively tackle most life issues. The proof of how short-ended personal experience can be is probably best captured by Bob Gass, author of The Word for Today:
“If you want to depend solely on your personal experience in life, you’ll have to outlive Methuselah.”
– Bob Gass
Note: According to the Bible, Methuselah lived for 969 years!
Through constant reading you leverage on other people’s experiences. As a result your experience will not be limited by your age.
Someone defined ideas as the distillation of experiences. In effect, all other things being equal, the more experiences you have the more creative ideas you can extract from those experiences. By implication, the more you read the more experiences you have to distill creative ideas from.
If you subscribe to the saying that ‘ideas rule the world,’ it can be inferred that the more relevant materials you read, the faster you’re advancing to ruling your world.
Types of Reading Materials
Broadly speaking, there are two types of reading materials: fiction and non-fiction. The type to read depends on your reading objective. If your interest is in personal development, for instance, your best bet is non-fiction. You can read biographies of your mentors and role models. Since human experiences are fairly similar, you will very likely gain some insights from such.
However, if your reading objective is pleasure, you will find fictions and, to some extent, non-fictions valuable.
How Important Is Reading To Success?
It’s hard to imagine succeeding at anything without reading. Although there are illiterates who have recorded a measure of success, such people are in the minority. The number of people that succeed without being able to read or reading will continue to decline as technological advancement continues to change the social and economic space.
Education is said to be the single most important liberator of human beings from the claws of poverty and lack. And at the centre of education is the human ability to read and gain valuable experiences.