Read Books

On Being a Modern Gentleman:

Guideline 2:Read Books

For the most part, this is a blog about writing and reading, so it should come as no surprise that reading would be one of my requirements for being a modern gentleman. Aside from regular exercise, reading should be the most important activity in your life.

Recent studies show that while literacy rates are increasing in most of the world, the number of individuals reading books is falling, particularly in the US among men and young adults. In recent decades, the percentage of men who read books (fiction or nonfiction) has fallen, and now upcoming generations are reading less than their forebears. Some statistics, frightening even if only partially accurate, claim that only 25% of Americans read a book each year. If young adults and men read less than other segments of the population, I can only imagine their rates.

As an avid reader and a writer, this hits me right in the feels. I take it personally. I wonder if our failing educational system is the cause or result of a growing disinterest in reading. Although, I could probably attribute most of society’s ills to fewer readers, but I’m biased.

To be a modern gentlemen, be a reader. Read widely. Read deeply. Sir Francis Bacon sagely wrote, “Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man. And therefore. . . if he read little, he had need have much cunning, to seem to know that he doth not.” A gentlemen should be knowledgeable, empathetic, creative, and worldly, and I know of no better way to foster these skills and characteristics than through reading. Psychologists argue that reading helps to develop empathy, our theory of mind ability, basic social skills, and concentration, which are all skills we need to hone.

This month, I challenge you to read a book–fiction, memoir, travelogue, or whatever else suits your fancy. If you finish one book, read another. Hell, read a third. To quote Bacon again, “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.” Find a book to suit each: an apéritif, an hors d’oeuvre, and a delectable main course.

Good reading, folks.

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9 thoughts on “Read Books

  1. “Psychologists argue that reading helps to develop empathy, our theory of mind ability, basic social skills, and concentration, which are all skills we need to hone.”
    Yes!!!! There is no other way to explore and experience other walks of life and other cultures (that we wouldn’t be able to experience otherwise) than through reading. Books, magazines, etc. teach us more than we even realize and help us in so many other ways than simply being literate.
    I love that you have challenged the people to read your blog to read a book. It’s sad to me that so few people read and value the power of reading.
    Yet another awesome post!

    • Why, thanks! This one was particularly important to me, being a writer, English Lit. grad., avid reader, and teacher. I truly believe that nothing is more beneficial than reading.

  2. Visiting you on the 2nd day of the #atozblogchallenge. Appreciate your energy and creativity in creating your blog. I can’t image my life without books, and yes, even E-books.(I published a novel as an e-book) My mother read to me as a child, and I believe it is still said that this blessing changes children’s life. I know it introduced me to a world of books. I help with your stats because I am never without a book to read. I intend to ‘follow you’ now and know I will be rewarded in the days to come.

  3. I adore your theme. Seems like we don’t hear the word gentleman enough any more. And that you identify reading as critical, also important. What is happening to reading today is an interesting question. It feels like we’ve lost the habit of it. At 18, I started reading myself to sleep every night, and still do it for the most part, even for just five minutes. Sometimes, in some phases, that’s all I can fit into the day.

    • I’m glad you like the theme; I’m fond of it myself. It’s interesting that you see reading as a habit, and I would add that reading seems to be a habit or feature of not only individuals but of culture/society. I still can’t wrap my head around statistics that show that literacy is increasing while the percentage of readers is falling. It’s mind-boggling.

      • Literacy is not just books, but the ability to process written information in multiple forms and formats. To survive in the digital age, literacy is critical. As for habits, I think of them as a norm, something that is valued enough to make it part of a routine. That does not undermine the passion for reading and the joy and self-awareness it triggers, but it just makes it a value rather than a whim.

        • Of course. The definition of literacy is evolving and comprises numeracy, digital literacy, arts literacy, and many others, though for the longest time it dealt strictly with the ability to read and write. Being a reader, I’m troubled that others might consider themselves literate when the skill is rarely exercised; however, it appears I’m in the minority.
          In regards to habits, I completely agree. Somewhat humorously though, I often find that reading is an automatic behavior in my life. Given a spare moment and without being aware, I reach for the closest book.

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