Monday, May 25, 2009

Yes, even that one

Years ago, probably during the Erap administration, Richard Gomez was supposed to be appointed to a presidential adviser position. His credentials were, of course, questioned and one of the issues brought up was that he didn't read books. Gomez countered by saying that he reads magazines naman

Naman, indeed. 

Thank goodness he didn't mention which magazines because if Reader's Digest* was among those I'd have been a few thousand pesos short thanks to a new TV screen. 

You can get current information from a magazine, along with digested facts and opinions. Some, like New Republic and McSweeney's and Wired, even border on brilliant. But you need to read books in order to consider yourself learned. 

And it's not just the content. The act of reading itself is a sign of intellectual maturity. The ability to spend over an hour of focused concentration on a single matter is a prerequisite for higher education.** An ability that isn't developed while poring over "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" or Richard Feynman's lectures. 

You practice while reading novels and stories and popular accounts of historical events. You read pop philosophy and pop science while preparing yourself for higher-level stuff. Heck, it isn't even preparation at all. The practice itself is fun. 

Books, even insipid pulp fiction, help develop a habit that leads to better learners and thinkers. In that sense all books are educational. 

Yes, even" Twilight."

*I loved Reader's Digest when I was eight; back when I was stretching my reading muscles, the year before that summer when I read the entire Collier's encyclopedia

** Of course, spending over an hour on a magazine article doesn't count. Unless it's Playboy, and it's not actually an article. In which case, congratulations, sir, your wife must be a very happy woman. ;)

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