The death of reading is threatening the soul – Philip Yancy (Source: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1bVw0S/:5Y02zpjy:p43RqxE1/www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/07/21/the-death-of-reading-is-threatening-the-soul)

I am going through a personal crisis. I used to love reading. I am writing this blog in my office, surrounded by 27 tall bookcases laden with 5,000 books. Over the years I have read them, marked them up, and recorded the annotations in a computer database for potential references in my writing. To a large degree, they have formed my professional and spiritual life.

Books help define who I am. They have ushered me on a journey of faith, have introduced me to the wonders of science and the natural world, have informed me about issues such as justice and race. More importantly, they have been a source of delight and adventure and beauty, opening windows to a reality I would not otherwise know.

My crisis consists in the fact that I am describing my past, not my present. I used to read three books a week. One year I devoted an evening each week to read all of Shakespeare’s plays (Okay, due to interruptions it actually took me two years). Another year I read the major works of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. But I am reading many fewer books these days, and even fewer of the kinds of books that require hard work.

The Internet and social media have trained my brain to read a paragraph or two, and then start looking around. When I read an online article from the Atlantic or the New Yorker, after a few paragraphs I glance over at the slide bar to judge the article’s length. My mind strays, and I find myself clicking on the sidebars and the underlined links. Soon I’m over at CNN.com reading Donald Trump’s latest tweets and details of the latest terrorist attack, or perhaps checking tomorrow’s weather.

Worse, I fall prey to the little boxes that tell me, “If you like this article [or book], you’ll also like…” Or I glance at the bottom of the screen and scan the teasers for more engaging tidbits: 30 Amish Facts That’ll Make Your Skin Crawl; Top 10 Celebrity Wardrobe Malfunctions; Walmart Cameras Captured These Hilarious Photos. A dozen or more clicks later I have lost interest in the original article.

Neuroscientists have an explanation for this phenomenon. When we learn something quick and new, we get a dopamine rush; functional-MRI brain scans show the brain’s pleasure centers lighting up. In a famous experiment, rats keep pressing a lever to get that dopamine rush, choosing it over food or sex. In humans, emails also satisfy that pleasure center, as do Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat.

Nicholas Carr’s book “The Shallows” analyzes the phenomenon, and its subtitle says it all: “What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains.” Carr spells out that most Americans, and young people especially, are showing a precipitous decline in the amount of time spent reading. He says, “Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.” A 2016 Nielsen report calculates that the average American devotes more than 10 hours per day to consuming media—including radio, TV, and all electronic devices. That constitutes 65 percent of waking hours, leaving little time for the much harder work of focused concentration on reading.

In “The Gutenberg Elegies,” Sven Birkerts laments the loss of “deep reading,” which requires intense concentration, a conscious lowering of the gates of perception, and a slower pace. His book hit me with the force of conviction. I keep putting off Charles Taylor’s “A Secular Age,” and look at my shelf full of Jürgen Multmann’s theology books with a feeling of nostalgia—why am I not reading books like that now?

An article in Business Insider studied such pioneers as Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg. Most of them have in common a practice the author calls the “5-hour rule”: they set aside at least an hour a day (or five hours a week) for deliberate learning. For example:
• Bill Gates reads 50 books a year.
• Mark Zuckerberg reads at least one book every two weeks.
• Elon Musk grew up reading two books a day.
• Mark Cuban reads for more than three hours every day.
• Arthur Blank, a co-founder of Home Depot, reads two hours a day.

When asked about his secret to success, Warren Buffett pointed to a stack of books and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will…” Charles Chu, who quoted Buffett on the Quartz website, acknowledges that 500 pages a day is beyond reach for all but a few people. Nevertheless, neuroscience proves what each of these busy people have found: it actually takes less energy to focus intently than to zip from task to task. After an hour of contemplation, or deep reading, a person ends up less tired and less neurochemically depleted, thus more able to tackle mental challenges.

If we can’t reach Buffett’s high reading bar, what is a realistic goal? Charles Chu calculatesthat at an average reading speed of 400 words per minute, it would take 417 hours in a year to read 200 books—less than the 608 hours the average American spends on social media, or the 1,642 hours watching TV. “Here’s the simple truth behind reading a lot of books,” says Quartz: “It’s not that hard. We have all the time we need. The scary part—the part we all ignore—is that we are too addicted, too weak, and too distracted to do what we all know is important.”

Willpower alone is not enough, he says. We need to construct what he calls “a fortress of habits.” I like that image. Recently I checked author Annie Dillard’s website, in which she states, “I can no longer travel, can’t meet with strangers, can’t sign books but will sign labels with SASE, can’t write by request, and can’t answer letters. I’ve got to read and concentrate. Why? Beats me.” Now that’s a fortress.

I’ve concluded that a commitment to reading is an ongoing battle, somewhat like the battle against the seduction of Internet pornography. We have to build a fortress with walls strong enough to withstand the temptations of that powerful dopamine rush while also providing shelter for an environment that allows deep reading to flourish. Christians especially need that sheltering space, for quiet meditation is one of the most important spiritual disciplines.

Modern culture presents formidable obstacles to the nurture of both spirituality and creativity. As a writer of faith in the age of social media, I host a Facebook page and a website and write an occasional blog. Thirty years ago I got a lot of letters from readers, and they did not expect an answer for a week or more. Now I get emails, and if they don’t hear back in two days they write again, “Did you get my email?” The tyranny of the urgent crowds in around me.

If I yield to that tyranny, my life fills with mental clutter. Boredom, say the researchers, is when creativity happens. A wandering mind wanders into new, unexpected places. When I retire to the mountains and unplug for a few days, something magical takes place. I’ll go to bed puzzling over a roadblock in my writing, and the next morning wake up with the solution crystal-clear—something that never happens when I spend my spare time cruising social media and the Internet.

For deep reading, I’m searching for an hour a day when mental energy is at a peak, not a scrap of time salvaged from other tasks. I put on headphones and listen to soothing music, shutting out distractions.

Deliberately, I don’t text. I used to be embarrassed when I pulled out my antiquated flip phone, which my wife says should be donated to a museum. Now I pocket it with a kind of perverse pride, feeling sorry for the teenagers who check their phones on average 2,000 times a day.

We’re engaged in a war, and technology wields the heavy weapons. Rod Dreher recent book, “‘The Benedict Option,” urges people of faith to retreat behind monastic walls as the Benedictines did — after all, they preserved literacy and culture during one of the darkest eras of human history. I don’t completely agree with Dreher, though I’m convinced that the preservation of reading will require something akin to the Benedict option.

I’m still working on that fortress of habit, trying to resurrect the rich nourishment that reading has long provided for me. If only I can resist clicking on the link 30 Amish Facts That’ll Make Your Skin Crawl…

11 Struggles Of A Book Lover (Source: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1VuKrd/:I_hQC2BJ:fp2Otd!d/www.theodysseyonline.com/11-struggles-of-book-lover)

1. Being asked for the title of your favorite book.

You’re asking me to pick just one? Can’t I pick my top five? No? Are you trying to kill me slowly?

2. Starting a book without realizing its sequel hasn’t been released.

Nothing is worse than getting to the end of a book and realizing, after the cliff hanger, that the next edition doesn’t come out for another 6 months to a year.

3. Staying up till the break of dawn to read.

You may not have completely studied for your morning exam, or slept enough to think in complete thoughts, but at least you know the ending of that book.

4. Post-book depression

You fell in love with all the characters, and now they are just people that you used to know. What can you do with yourself?

5. E-books? Nah.

Nothing compares to the feeling or smell of a real book. Plus, reading on a phone or tablet ruins the effect of quickly turning the pages in excitement or slamming your book down in anger.

6. Free books? YES.

Your friend hated a book and is trying to give it away? You insist on taking it. A friend is consolidating their library? You’ll accept every last one of those books into a loving home. Issues such as having enough space or even being interested in these books have no interest to you because free books are free books.

7. Falling in love with a character

This doesn’t necessarily mean romantic love, although sometimes it does. There are times where you just become so invested in a character that you don’t want the relationship to end.

8. Forgetting about your other commitments

Those moments where your book is so enthralling that you forget about the pot in the stove, cookies in the oven, laundry waiting in the washer, or anything of semi-importance. The worst is forgetting to do homework, missing a deadline, or not proofreading that essay.

9. Accidentally buying multiple copies of one book

When you have so many stacks of books, sometimes you lose track of what you did and didn’t buy. For instance, I didn’t mean to buy three copies of “The Devil Wears Prada”, but guess what I did?

10. Not wanting to part with your books (even just on a lend to a friend)

Trying to downsize your collection of books is the equivalent of trying to fit a square in a circle shaped hole, an impossible task. You’re lucky if I’m willing to get rid of one or two books, let alone 10 or more. Plus, in terms of lending books, what if your friend spills something on it, loses it, messes up the dust jacket, or the worst one of all, bends the corner to mark the page. Oh the horror!

11. Never stepping into a bookstore without buying something

I would like to thank my local independent bookshop for enabling me with their frequent reader program and monthly newsletters full of book suggestions and coupons (a college student’s best friend). Whenever I go into a bookstore I always buy one thing, or maybe two or three in the case of a coupon. In addition, I am known to add at least 10 books to my Goodreads “To Be Read” list.

Those Who Read Books Live Longer Than Those Who Don’t, Study Finds (Source: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2mOjxL/:1VdnhB8j5:p8pca8$U/www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/those-who-read-books-live-longer-than-those-who-dont-study-finds_us_57a358c8e4b0104052a17cd2)

Finally a study we can bury our nose in. Researchers at Yale University School of Public Health have found that book readers have a “significant survival advantage” over those who don’t read books. While the study didn’t address whether reading books on Kindle count, it did find that book readers in general lived an average of two years longer than those who don’t.

 

The study, which appears in Social Science & Medicine, found that people who read for up to 3.5 hours a week were 17 percent less likely to die over the study’s 12-year follow up period than those who read no books. Since book readers tend to be female, college-educated and in higher income groups, the researchers controlled for those factors as well as age, race, self-reported health, depression, employment and marital status.

Compared with those who did not read books, those who read for more than 3.5 hours a week were 23 percent less likely to die.

 

The study found a similar association among those who read newspapers and periodicals, but it was weaker.

“People who report as little as a half-hour a day of book reading had a significant survival advantage over those who did not read,” said the senior author, Becca R. Levy, a professor of epidemiology at Yale, in a New York Times post.

 

But as a few astute commenters noted, since reading a book is a sedentary activity, maybe we shouldn’t expect too much from it in the way of increased longevity. Although if reading means you aren’t going out and thus exposing yourself to all the world’s inherent dangers, maybe you will gain a few years. While we wait for the jury to decide, what’cha reading?

Why I Love Reading Real Books (Source: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1xWw9R/:WOHnV9Fj:mUT6IYKk/www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/why-i-love-reading-real-books_us_59404013e4b04c03fa26161b)

This is an article I came across in the morning. I like to start my day with positivity which really helps give a good start to my day. My most favourite articles are from individuals who share their personal reading experiences and reviews.

This article grasped my attention and I really think it’s inspiring and motivating for readers like me and others around the world.

 

I read a new book every 2 weeks or so, which adds up to about 25 books per year.

As a rule, I always read at least few pages every day. Often it is a lot more than that. I squeeze reading in whenever I can — primarily weeknights before bed and then throughout the weekend.

 

Of course this pales in comparison to some notable voracious readers, such as Bill Gates(50+ books per year) and Warren Buffett (500+ pages per day).

 

I read books primarily to learn, grow, and feed my curiosities. This means that I mostly read non-fiction books about my passions of personal development, healthy lifestyle, and business/marketing.

 

While I certainly learn every day on the job, books are a gateway to deeper knowledge within my profession and a way to dive into areas unrelated to my day job.

My personality is best-suited to deep exploration of a limited number of subjects, rather than casually flipping from topic to topic. Therefore I greatly prefer reading full books over magazines, online articles, or any other type of micro-content. I highly respect the amount of time and expertise it has taken an author to research and craft a 200+ page book, and I relish the process of immersing myself in that one area for an extended period of time.

 

Since knowledge is my primary reason for reading books, I always read with a pen in hand so I can underline key passages as I go. Then, after finishing each book, I go back through the underlined sections and manually write out a ‘one-pager’ of my key takeaways in a notebook.

I have been doing this for the past five years, which means I now have well over 100 one-page summaries of the books I’ve read. This makes it easy and convenient to go back and reference the points that resonated with me most.

 

I always feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment after finishing the three-step process of reading, underlining, and transcribing these one-pagers. It is at that point that I feel truly ‘done’ with a book and ready to move on to the next one.

 

This amount of effort might seem crazy to some people, especially since I am not being paid and nobody is asking me to do it. But reading books in this focused manner gives me so much joy precisely because it is what I want to be doing. Even after a long work day, I find it energizing to take on this additional learning during my ‘down’ time, because it is how I choose to spend the time.

 

I have found that there are typically one or two brilliant nuggets from each book that stand out from the rest, and those key insights often serve as the basis for my articles. Reading therefore not only fulfills my interests, but also serves as a springboard for sharing what I learn. I figure if these insights help me, they likely will help others as well, especially for people who do not have the time to read as many books as I do.

Glanceful of Lust

 

love_or_lust___by_anujkaura-d2yhumh

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder,

You stand cross legged leaning against the door of your car,

You just saw your wife drive away to meet her friends,

Heaving a sigh of relief, you glance around trying to catch the eye of someone unaware of your presence,

You puff the smoke from your cigar and watch it perish into the air,

It gives you a high, a sense of freedom, at least for a little while,

You feel an immense need for getting away from your mundane life,

You watch like a predator waiting for its prey,

A few young girls pass by but they don’t interest you,

probably in a few years time,

Suddenly you see the girl that you just feel seems like the right one,

Not very popular,

Walking alone,

Probably someone who moved here for work or studies, away from home,hot-kiss-love-lust-Favim.com-4013731

An easy target,

Her luscious curves forcing you take a deep breath imagining her squealing beneath you,

Her heels clank softly on the pavement and you need to do something to get her attention,

Suddenly she twists her leg and drops the book she’s holding in her hands,

perfect opportunity.

You take a few strides ahead, pick her book before she can get to it,

and ask “Are you okay?”

She replies “Yes, thank you!” and moves off.

Damn! You wanted more,

She is not very attractive or bold, but she has a sweet appearance,

You thought she would mellow at the slightest attention,

Instead she brushed off your gestures, hitting your ego in all the wrong spots,

You walk towards her showering her with flattery that she is pretty, unlike any other you have ever met,

bad_lust_by_novaberry-dawihd1

You try to charm her with your sweet words,

hoping she would agree to go for a ride,

so you can charm her and add her name to the list of girls you have had lustful encounters with,

You think she is about to consent and you give a sinister smile,

when she tells you she in loud clear words that will forever ring in your ears as you try to lure innocent women into your lyre,

“Glanceful of lust,

Handful of wicked intentions,

Words that flow like sweet savoury wine,

I have seen many like you,

Heard a lot of praise thrown at my feet,

I am in no need of any companionship with you,

I am far too strong and precious for you,

I have neither the time nor the luxury to entertain a fool like you.”