Last week I was a 40 year old bachelor living in New York
Have you ever wondered how it is to be a 40 year old bachelor living in New York?
Or how to survive if you get stranded on Mars?
Or how it would feel to dive on a German u-boat wreck in the Atlantic ocean?
With life comes experience and knowledge. But we live only one life. There’s a limit to what you can experience in one life. There’s not enough time to see the whole world. To experience everything. To learn everything.
But what if we could live multiple lives? That would increase our experiences and knowledge tremendously.
I’m not talking about being born again or some other spiritual mumbo jumbo. I don’t believe in that. We only have one life to live. That’s it. No reruns. No second chances.
But, still, I tell you that you can live multiple lives. How you might ask?
By reading books.
When you read books you acquire experiences from other people’s lives. Whether it’s fiction or not doesn’t matter that much. A little bit of both is a good mix.
What matters is that you get to experience whatever you want:
- How it would be to not be able to have children of your own.
- How it would feel if you’re best friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
- How to blend in if you find yourself at an English boarding school where there’s potions and spells on the curriculum.
There’s really no limit as to what you can experience and learn through books since there are so many out there. You can just pick and choose whatever you want to. And if one of them turns out bad, you can just stop reading it and pick another one.
Some people think that reading is a waste of time. They just don’t understand the advantage you get in life through reading. Nowadays with all the audio books and e-books available it’s easier than ever before to read.
I haven’t done any controlled, scientific study on this, where people are randomly assigned to different groups. However, to me it seems like the great majority of really successful people read books. I believe that the reading is part of their success.
Through reading you can learn from others and you don’t have to make the same mistakes as they did. Still, the great majority hardly ever or never read a book.
Reading gives you an edge. If you read you will always be ahead of the 80% of the population that doesn’t.
I try to read as much as possible. I’ve upgraded my reading on the priority list. During the day, I take reading breaks. Also on the weekends when the kids are around. They know when they see me with my Kindle that I’m reading.
I read a lot for my kids as well. I like to read out loud and make funny voices for the different characters. Or use some strange dialect.
I encourage my oldest to read on his own. Not just comic books, but real books as well. He’s had trouble finding something that he likes. There are a lot of crappy children’s books out there.
But one series that he really likes is the tale of Hiccup, the Viking. The movie ”How to train your dragon” is based on these books. The movie was good, but the books are even better, as is usually the case when books are turned into movies.
Hiccup lives with his friends and family on the island of Berk. And there are dragons. A lot of dragons. The British author Cressida Cowell has both written and illustrated these books. The inspiration, she says, comes from tales told by her father when spending summer holidays on some small island off the west coast of Scotland. She refuses to say the name of it. I guess she might fear a tourist invasion when people want to see “the real Berk”.
The best children’s books are the ones where you and your children recognize yourself. Where there are situations depicted that you also find yourself in. Or when the characters display some trait that you or your children also have.
As we all know, kids don’t do as they are told, they do as we adults do. It’s not enough telling them that they should read. You have to set an example. At least, that’s my excuse for sitting down to read during the day.
By reading books we can:
- become more emphatic
- understand that there is always more than one side to a story
- expand our worldview
- gain a better understanding for things that are happening in our world
- put ourselves in someone’s shoes
- learn how to improve ourselves
Lately, I’ve been experiencing what it would be like to be stranded on Mars. Now I know how to grow potatoes if I get stuck there. I know where the to find the Pathfinder if I ever need to modify it to contact Earth.
I’ve learned how it was to deep sea wreck dive before the introduction of the trimix gas. I’ve been enchanted by the quest to find out why there was a World War II German sub off the coast of New Jersey, where it wasn’t supposed to be. The people on that sub have come to life before me.
Through the eyes of a 40-year old bachelor, I’ve experienced how it would feel if a longtime friend decides to change sex. Or how to handle friends that go dogmatic on you.
I’ve learned the number one reason for why violent crimes rates in the USA dropped in the beginning of the 1990’s. And it wasn’t what I expected.
A great way to improve your life is to start reading books. Read 5 pages each day and you’re life will be better. And you will get that edge that comes with reading books. Besides it’s great fun!