Why we read: the joy of books

There is an ubiquity of apps these days which condense books into snippets or short video/audio presentations. I like the idea. After all, time is the rarest ‘commodity’ in today’s world. (The self quarantine that many of us are currently going through has given us a new sense of the value of personal time.)

However, there is also an element of reductionism in treating books as solely mediums, or containers, of information. Condensing a book into an information capsule, which can be easily and quickly consumed, does take away from the essence of the joy of reading.

What is the act of reading a book, in essence? Is it just an act of transferring information from the text to the mind? Or, is it, an experience?

Ultimately, any human activity is what you make of it. Or, I should say what you choose to make of it. This is your life, your time, and what and how you choose to value something, should ultimately be, your prerogative. No matter what the ubiquitous ‘experts’ say : there is no best way to live, to do this or that.

But there is a basic rhythm of life, which we, as humans, dance to. What is this rhythm? Our inner, emotional life. All its highs and lows. Both are equally important.

For me, it is for this inner life, for the highs and lows of the emotional experience, that I read. A book is not an information capsule. It is a symphony of human emotions.

And experiencing this, the inner symphony of emotional experience which plays out when I’m immersed in a text, is why I love to read for extended periods of time. Or, immerse my self in a text. Information, knowledge, wisdom and the experience of the inner life: this is geometry of the soul. The magic of books.