I used to read a lot of books. I’m a fast reader and could go through a few in a weekend. I think I slowed down on the reading when I became a mother and never had enough time to really get into anything. I like to read in one sitting or two, rather than in small segments. I also used to read more when I didn’t have instant access to great thinkers. Now that I do, I am beginning to believe I no longer value non-fiction the way I used to.
When I think about the process and time it takes for a book to move from an original thought to a published volume, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. I realize this doesn’t apply to all books. Historical and biographical pieces are probably good exceptions, as are research findings. However, any book describing some new trend in business, technology or education, has me questioning why it needs to be in book format. When someone has a new idea or theory, I just don’t understand keeping it to themselves until it is fully developed enough to become a publication.
I do believe individuals can have great ideas and even influence world change, but I feel there’s greater value in sharing the ideas, gathering feedback, refining concepts, reflecting and revising. Agile book development? I also don’t understand how all these books fit the same format and structure. If they’re so original, why are they edited down or fluffed up to all be about the same size? I think I no longer have the attention span to read fluffed up chopped up ideas that were original at conception years earlier, but are now compromised by the publishing process.
Another reason I don’t read them, is that I’ve got a great network of filters. Not only do I get reviews and commentary on books, I get to observe reflective application of principles, including examples of success and failure. It’s highly possible that the books are processed like mad, published, purchased, read, applied and then re-purposed by readers who strip away the garbage and discover the original concept. I want to get the information from these people!
It’s just a bunch of words. The meaning I extract from them can be completely different from the next reader or even from the author’s intent. I don’t want to create meaning on my own based on text as the only input. I need more. Social media has made me crave more human connection to text. Text from an individual, filtered by editors and constrained by publishing standards no longer holds the same value to me as text taken apart, stretched, fragmented, tested, filtered, and re-used by people I trust and admire.
Since I’ve not been reading, I don’t suppose I’m even qualified to judge new publications. So tell me what you’ve read that I shouldn’t live without. What will make me desire to read more?