How Reading Over 1,500 Books Has Changed My Life

I am currently 26 years old as of writing this post and on my Goodreads I have just surpassed 1,500 read books (technically 1,552 as of writing this post). This doesn’t count a lot of the books I read as a kid before I discovered Goodreads, but I thought it was an exciting benchmark.

Now, 1,500 is just a number and it doesn’t dictate how much knowledge and understanding I gained from these books. It’s easy to boast reading a lot of book without considering that those people who have read a lot less but taken to heart more have gained more than I ever could. And I admit that a lot of the books I read haven’t brought anything to my life.

I also don’t want to have you think this is a flex on my part like, “Oh, look at me, reading so many books.” I’m not writing this post to explain how awesome and privileged I am for both having great access to books and having the time and concentration to digest words on a page. I’m instead writing this post to muse about how reading has effected my life.

Socrates has a really great and famous quote:

The more I learn, the more I learn how little I know.

Socrates

I’ve always loved this quote, and its one I like to live by.

Light Inside Library

Life is incredibly short, and there is no way we can learn everything in the short years we are on earth. There are too many books to even make a dent in reading them. Even if I read a million books in my life, there will still be millions more I will never read.

And yet I still read, and I still love reading. There are so many typical responses to why you should read: it opens your mind to new worlds and ideas, it helps your concentration and analytical ability, it makes you more kind and understanding to people and things different than yourself, and it lets you escape the dark realities of the world to fly with dragons and solve murders. Don’t get me wrong, all of those things are true, but I think reading has changed me in infinitely more ways, which I cannot start to list entirely in this post. But here are a few.

“To See a World in a Grain of Sand”

William Blake

Books are kind of a condensed life. They are an immense wealth of knowledge. From learning history to moral lessons, books impart knowledge which cannot be gained in one life. They are a way to learn from the past and thrive in the future. To see the big in the small. To condense information gained from over a lifetime into three hundred pages.

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Books are a way to feel happiness and find contentment in a world so confusing and complex. Television is often filled with drama and quick satisfaction, whereas books are the long burn, taking many pages to fall in love with characters and rise and fall with them. I learned patience and concentration and contentment reading books.

They are old friends in my life, always there to comfort me. One of the main reasons I read so much now is because I have happy associations with reading from my childhood. I hear a lot of people my age say they dislike books because they were forced to read books they didn’t like in school, and thus have negative associations with reading in general.

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Now-a-days, there are so many ways to gather information. Just a quick Google search turns up hundreds or thousands of results on a topic. Want to learn more about Ancient Rome? Google it. Want to know how to train a dog? Google it. Want to understand the difference between the ancient Greek philosophical ideologies of Stoicism and Cynicism? Google it?

Right?

Well, right and wrong. A quick Google search does turn up basic knowledge about any topic, but it is usually biased information from nonexperts or merely a cursorily glance at a topic. A Wikipedia article about Stoicism may help you understand who some Stoics were or what their basic ideology was, but only by reading their works or expert books on the topic yourself can you truly understand the mentality. This I find happens to me every day. On the internet, a lot of the detail is lost in general overviews, even if they are well-researched, truthful overviews. For me, reading is a way to understand the truth of the world, not simply understand the basics which may or may not be true.

That same idea goes for information you hear, whether on the news or from friend. It might be true, but then again it might not, and only by doing research yourself can you ascertain that.

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There is so much value in reading, and while I cannot fault anyone who doesn’t like the process of reading or doesn’t have time, I could easily assign value to reading for everyone, even if that is only 5 books a year.

I might even go so far to say that the world would be a kinder, more understanding place if people just read a little more.

What are some of the reasons you read? Do you have any reading goals in your life? I know this is kind of a blathering post, but I’ve wanted to write it for a while. Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,

Madame Writer

24 thoughts on “How Reading Over 1,500 Books Has Changed My Life

  1. Reading is such a buzz, it takes us to times and places that are new and exciting, books teach us culture, perspective, and what weid aliens look like. To read is to be addicted in the best way, and it’s always nice to meet authors or even get opportunities in the book industry. With so many book out there, the only goal to have is to read what one enjoys, and of course blog about it afterwards.

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  2. Great blogpost! I read to be able to view things in a different perspective. Reader has helped me become an empathic person. I have learned to understand and respect different viewpoints. I have learned not to judge someone because you don’t know their story and struggles. And it made me an even greater history buff 🙃

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  3. A great topic for discussion! It was so interesting reading your thoughts on reading. I guess my answer is very banal and dull. I have been reading since I was very little. It sounds cliché but I would say asking me “why are you reading” is like asking me “why are you breathing”. I guess it became part of my lifestyle in my very very early childhood (that began with Russian fairy-tales) and I hope will continue for many years to come. I admit there were years in my past (when I was a full-time student) when I read only 3-4 fiction books a year, but the passion for reading has always been there. You are right, it is not about the numbers, but about the quality too and what one gets out of their reading experience.

    My opinion is also that we should not judge quickly or dismiss non-readers out there because people simply process information and the world around them differently (some people are “auditory” or “visual”). For these people, for example, a good film can open up just such a new horizon as a good book.

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    1. I agree completely! I grew up reading books too and quality is definitely more important than quantity. And you make a good point that books are merely a single format, and films (as well as music and other sources of entertainment) can be meaningful and impactful as well.

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  4. Totally loved reading this post and couldn’t agree more with all of what you’re saying. I think it’s so important to read in a world that has become so visual. Not only can reading comfort and distract us, but it also allows us see the world from different perspectives and encourages us to critically reflect on negative trends in society. I totally agree with you that the world would probably be a better place if people read a little more…

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  5. I love getting absorbed in the world of a good fiction novel. Movies and shows are fun, but I just have such an appreciation for perfectly strung together words on a page. I love nonfiction because of the education aspect. As you said, you can really explore a topic more in-depth by reading a book about it vs. reading an internet post.

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  6. I’ve always loved reading, especially when I was younger. Nowadays I have such a hard time focusing on reading but when I can I still love it and still get into it. And I must say, while I don’t think I’ve read half as much as you I think reading has probably changed my life too.

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    1. It’s definitely not as much about quantity, as much about quality. Reading one book which brings meaning to your life is so much better than reading a 1000 books which don’t mean anything.

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  7. Beautiful post! I like how you put it: “Books are a condensed life.” It’s so true and one of the reasons I’ve always enjoyed reading since I was younger, because I’ve always wanted to see other worlds and ideas. I also agree that reading inspires kindness and change in our society. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

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  8. I read because I love to. From the moment I was able to, I’ve hardly been without a book in hand. It inspired me to write & brings me great joy to read others’ stories & poems or learn things.

    I may not be able to read as quickly or as many books a year as I used to, but the ability to still read a bit each day is a blessing to me. I don’t know what I’d do without books, honestly. I appreciate getting lost in them.

    Congrats on your milestone! Happy reading!

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  9. That’s a truly impressive number, I have a lot of respect for your reading efforts! Personally I read predominantly because I have always loved stories and escapism. These days I read and review because it helps authors, I’m an author myself so I know the struggle to get reviews, its the least I can do to love stories.

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