Reading is about a becoming, a transformation of personhood.

Posted on July 10, 2017

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Yes, reading is a good discipline, and it expands your mind, broadens your horizons, and allows you to escape to imaginative worlds. Reading does make you “smart,” and while the connotations of that word are often elitist, the word “smart” really should be seen simply as a positive trait and skill that can be acquired by anyone.

But there are also deeper reasons to read which have less to do with information, data, or the size of your library, and more to do with your soul. Reading is more about a “becoming,” a “growing into,” and a transformation of self. It is about the generating of a new kind of person. Here are some ways in which that happens.

Vocabulary. While reading helps you gain new words, a growing vocabulary expands one’s capacity to understand the world through thoughts, concepts, and ideas previously unattainable. To say, “the universe is big,” frames your mind in a different way than the phrase, “the universe is infinite.”

Discernment. Reading sharpens one’s ability to observe and perceive what the author is attempting to communicate. It is not just knowing what the author wrote, but it is about perceiving what the author was thinking and feeling. Reading forces you to make emotional decisions, even unconsciously, about what is going on in the text. This is ultimately an exercise in growing one’s discernment skills. Reading actually helps you become a better decision maker.

Connecting the Dots. Reading is linear, which means that ideas must be understood in sequence. This requires someone to connect the dots by remembering the dots, even if reading about an event in which all those dots happened simultaneously. This is an important skill because it helps someone see the moments of potential divergence from actual outcomes. Reading helps you dissect and identify those possibilities.