We tend to stick to reading books we enjoy—whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, a specific genre, or a particular author.
No surprise since our mind likes patterns, predictable outcomes, familiar experiences over unfamiliar ones.
But isn’t it bad to read mostly the same things?
The ideas we pick up from our reading consolidate our biases and existing ideas.
If we don’t encounter different ideas, the ideas we already have can never be challenged and thus improved. The horizon of our thinking stays relatively narrow.
The trouble is that today, when the sheer amount of books on the market is overwhelming, we tend to use our preferences as filters when choosing books.
It’s easier to read books within our field of interest that reinforce our existing ideas, and which we can safely presume we will enjoy when we pick them off the shelf, than risk our time reading books outside our established interests.
But being adventurous when it comes to reading can be interesting and beneficial.
It may give us a broader grasp of the world and help us find creative solutions to problems.
And it will improve our store of knowledge–even if we gain practical knowledge, it can improve our conversation.
For many years I tended to read mostly dead authors. If their books stood the test of time, then it means there’s something valuable in them, I thought.
These days I try to be less of a book snob.
For every few fiction books or non-fiction books on familiar topics, I choose a book my time-conscious self would not necessarily choose.
Right now, I’m reading a math book—and finding it quite interesting despite my limited knowledge of the topic.
Pi’s endless decimals or the Fibonacci sequence or the golden ratio… Each of them fascinating in its own way.
Are the benefits of reading widely different books tangible?
But our neurons work harder and establish more connections.
And often, it’s through encountering challenging and contradictory ideas that we can best find out what we think and where we stand in the matter.
Maybe you spend an hour reading every day. Or may you don’t have that much time.
Regardless of the answer, I say give different books a chance—even if they are not your usual cup of tea.
You may be pleasantly surprised.
And even if you’ll struggle a bit to read something foreign to your interests, it’s good brain exercise.
Until next post!