# 17 on my 99 Life Tips–A List is: Read for the sheer joy of it. If you cannot read due to time constraints, look for time leaks to plug so you can make time to read. If you still cannot get the time to sit with a book or good magazine, listen to audiobooks at every available moment: when walking, when commuting, or on a drive of any distance.
I count reading as the cornerstone of all my acquired skills. It is the skill that informs and makes possible all the others I possess other than those that I’ve picked up by observation and practice. (I learned to drive nails with a hammer by hitting my thumb a lot—reading would have been less painful, but not as good a teacher).
Reading Is What Makes Writers Immortal
The whole concept of reading amazes me. Graphical communication supposes the creation of information in the present to be recorded for impartation and consumption in the future without a loss of meaning. Whether a book, an article, an essay, or a note, written words bring the author’s mind to the reader, whether or not the author is still physically alive.
For those who wonder about cryonics to achieve immortality, I say, try writing. Via reading, the author’s mind is as alive and fresh and real as the day he chiseled, or penned, or typed the words.
So much of spoken language is thankfully ephemeral. It passes on the same wind that carries its vibrations to the ear of the hearer. And sometimes it goes in one ear and out the other just as rapidly.
As a test, list how many speeches you know about as compared to how many book titles you’ve read. Any famous speeches that predate radio and television have survived and made it to us because we can read them. How sad if we only had oral history to learn from and to pass on to our progeny.
Written language is an archive of saved thoughts. Expecting the existence of a reader, the writer writes. She supposes that what she records will be relevant and helpful to some reader who comes along in five minutes, or five years, or five millennia.
Reading Is A Kind Of Magic
With these ideas in mind, reading anything is a joy to me. It is a kind of magic. I feel sorry for those who only read of necessity. One of the mind-blowing experiences missed by those who find no pleasure in reading is the opportunity to try on a new life, or a new world in your imagination, to time travel, either by re-living the past or rocketing into the sci-fi future.
If you read the words pink elephant, you cannot help but see it. How did I put it in your mind? I wrote it and you read it. Amazing. If you think that was cool, try to escape the knowledge of that happening with every word you ever read. A writer somewhere cooks up a thought, pecks it out in abstract shapes, squiggles, and lines, posts it somewhere and the reader’s internal interpreter assigns meaning to all the gibberish and makes it real in the reader’s mind.
And while there is something precious and sensual about holding a book in your hands, of feeling the paper as you turn the pages, digital formats and audiobooks are a fantastic way to get many of the same benefits, and they’re convenient in a pinch. Go ahead, read for sheer joy.