Reading Unfun Books

I've seen people post it on Social Media and I've heard people say it to each other - I've even been told a time or two myself that;

You shouldn't waste your time reading books you don't like.

Or;

Life is short. Read what makes you happy.


But I'm not sure I agree. Not completely, anyway.

I won't be the one to argue that there's anything wrong with knowing what you like in a book and seeking that out. If I were, then you really oughtn't listen to me at all, because that would mean I was placing my own opinion far above where it should be on the totem pole, if you take my meaning.


By all means, read books you enjoy. And if you're reading books strictly for your own enjoyment, that's even more reason to read the ones you love. Go back and reread old favorites. Seek out books by authors you like. Take no flak and no shame for what you love, because it's honestly none of their business what you're reading.


But I would cautiously suggest that there are circumstances under which reading something that you don't think is fun, or that doesn't make you happy, or maybe even that isn't all that good, is in fact a desirable thing.


Let me explain.


When you're a game developer, you often end up playing games that aren't really the sort you personally would enjoy pulling out for an after-dinner fun time. You play games specifically to see how they were made, what rules they use, what audience they were aiming for. Not only what they did right, but what they did wrong and how that might have been improved.


When you're a web developer, you look at applications and websites not just to see how you might improve your own work, but how you might avoid problems you haven't even foreseen yet. Some of those applications will be outside your purview, and some of those websites will be badly designed, but that doesn't mean you can't learn anything from them.

In the same way, students and authors read books to learn from them, not simply to enjoy them, and that's part of the difference.


When I'm reading for my own pleasure, I'll read whatever the heck I want, which is usually YA Fantasy or Sci-Fi, usually featuring a spunky protagonist and one or more nonhuman secondary characters because that's what I'm interested in.


But it's also important that I read works that aren't what I'm comfortable with, because there are things I can learn from those texts that I haven't mastered yet.


So perhaps it's more accurate to say:

Life is too short to stop learning.

Seek out content that will teach you the stuff you need to learn.


That's why I keep going back to reread Little Women, or Black Beauty. I learn a little more from those books every time I crack them open. More about me, more about how to be a better person, more about who I want to be.

So my question for you is deceptively simple:

What do you read, and why do you read it?

#reading #habits #motivation

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