When I think back to my childhood, most of my non-school related time involved me either playing outside with friends, or inside with videogames or watching television. In fact, when I think about the 90’s I think of a time when Americans, or maybe just the people I knew, spent the bulk of their leisure time watching tv. Looking back my most vivid memories were outside, with friends, family or at school, but I am still aware of all the time spent in front of the tube. Did I learn something? For all that time spent was I ever truly transported to some other place, did I ever gain an experience that I would not have had otherwise? While I do not want to sell tv short I feel those experiences were few and far between. At the same time I can usually recall the plots of books I read during the same period. Perhaps this is simply due to the huge disparity in time spent with each activity, but I think a lot has to do with how broad television content is while reading on the other hand is whatever you are interested in, when you are interested in it – not unlike the internet really. 

 With the rise of the internet people are slowly being weaned off of the television and spending their time in a more dynamic environment. Where television was highly formatted, entirely visual, and heavily restricted by a reliance on specific time slots and market segments the internet suffers from none of these. On the internet audiences are becoming exceedingly niche, time is nearly irrelevant, and while content can be formatted in many ways the backbone of the webs content is text based. While some may have predicted a more tv-like layout for the web what we see today resembles something akin to a more simplified newspaper.

Today I see something I would not have expected five to ten years ago. Amazon with their Kindle, as well as other e-readers and tablets, has created a booming market for electronic books and is poised to control an industry I had not realized existed –  much in the same way that Apple completely took over the music industry by bundling the itunes store with their iPods. People think reading is cool again because these pocket pc’s are so slick. Perhaps this is just a fad but for the time being Amazon and the others have reinvigorated a boring old industry by turning it completely on its head. Not only do they have people reading but by tearing down the old barriers put up by publishing companies they have people writing too, much like how the internet prompted the explosion of blogs.

That brings me to the gist of this post, on the importance of reading. When I first decided to create this blog I did so in part because I wanted to improve my writing skills, but I also did so because I knew the blog would force me to read. Life does not allow one to simply continue going forward 100% of the time. There is a constant need for maintenance – practice then execution, then practice. On that path moving forward one must constantly stop and make sure they are heading in the right direction. This is where reading proves to be so important. While television’s primary function is to entertain reading more often serves to educate.  Reading allows us to gain the knowledge and experience required to help us know that we are on the right path, and in turn to help us find the right path for the future. Sure real life experience is far better but such experiences generally require an exorbitantly higher amount of time and effort than simply reading. Reading is a stand in for planning, and planning is something we all should be doing. What could I possibly write about if I were to avoid reading? I’d likely fall back on old stories and ideas but eventually I will need some new content and reading helps me seek that out. So for all of you out there feeling like you do not read enough, go buy yourself a Kindle and find yourself something you want to read – you do not necessarily even have to pay, as there are tons of free books available.