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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Why Books Suck

Ever since I was a little kid I was always anti-book. I was told by adults and people around me, "when you grow up you would appreciate them". I despised books. Now I am older but I still retain my anti-book attitude, and it is basically the same attitude that I had when I was younger.

Let me explain what I mean by books. Certainly I am not against all books. I have read books when I was younger. But the books I read were different. I used to read Calculus books, math books, science books when I was still pre-high school. I remember I was reading Linus Pauling's "General Chemistry". I believe I was an 8th grader at that point. (It is a good book, if I was able to mostly understand it then if you want to learn some chemistry this is a book to learn it from). I used to ask my science teacher to pick out books for me to read on basic physics since I enjoyed that kind of stuff. So I was really into science and mathematics. I was very diverse in the science I read when I was younger, I believed I could know it all. Eventually mathematics won me over and I started to concentrate on it and read books on mathematics. Most of my math and science knowledge that have is because of self-study, and it is books and the internet that gets the praise. So clearly it would be hypocritical of me to be against books if I learned so much from them.

But there is a subset of books that I am against. The books I actually learned from I will refer to as "textbooks". Even though some books were not really textbooks I will nonetheless call textbooks. Textbooks are awesome. You can learn so much from them. You will get so much smarter if you buy yourself textbooks and learn from them. When I say "books" I mean literature and novels.

Ever since I was a kid I was unable to understand what is so amazing about literature and to this day I cannot understand. Can you explain to me how reading about Harry Potter actually makes you a more intelligent person? The only thing I see about books is that they are used as a form of entertainment. And that is okay. I have nothing against forms of entertainment. But if they are just entertainment then they are like movies. No one ever claims that movies make you smart. Books were the old age movies before there were any movies. People read them to entertain themselves. And again, this is fine. But this is only fine as long as people do not take it too far and claim that books posses the highest truth of the universe. With every ounce of my reason I cannot see how books make people smarter. People say it teaches you history. Well if you want history then buy yourself a history textbook and learn thousands amount of history than from some fiction book of literature. I know plenty of people who read all the time but there is nothing smart about those people. They just read and know their literature, that is it. So tell me exactly how do books makes you smart?

I guess that deep wisdom of books is one of those truisms that we have to accept. Just like family as I wrote earlier on this blog. Ever since we were little kids we were taught that "family is you blood, they are most important" and so when we grow up we continue to hold on to it. There are many other truisms. The police officer is our friend, how many times you heard that one as a kid? Or that the army fights for our freedom, another truism. Books, it seems to me, is just another kind of truism, parents kept on repeatedly telling us how they make you smart so we immediately assume that people who read a lot are smart.


  1. some movies expand your mind, just like some books do. I would say that it depends on the book/move and it depends on the person watching/reading.

    Books have the advantage over movies that it allows the writer to go into more detail. Movies are usually only about 2 hours long so they need to be abridged.

    Getting wiser doesn't always have to do with getting more facts. It also has to do with changing a perspective. For example, let's say you want to know about slavery in the U.S.A, you could read a history book or you could read a fictional autobiography of a slave. Which one is more powerful? Which one would likely change a person's perspective more? Dry facts are indeed useful and good, but emotional story telling has a certain power that non fiction doesn't always have.

    Lastly, it's silly to say "books Suck" even if they didn't have anything to do with intelligence. Since intelligence is not the measure of all things

  2. Fiction is good for developing emotional intelligence and empathy. I think you'll be a much happier person when you learn to integrate those things into your life more. Being Spock or Data (to pull a fictional reference you might get) ain't a great way to go through life.

    I read almost a novel a day growing up, probably. I think it helped turn me into one of the more emotionally intelligent nerds out there. ;-) I think reading fiction would do you good.

  3. (Actually I'm not sure it would "do you good." Maybe you don't like fiction because you just aren't in touch with your emotions. I don't know if reading it will get you in touch with them... but if you already were in touch, I think it would help.)

  4. "emotional story telling has a certain power that non fiction doesn't always have.":

    Emotional story telling also has the tendency to be wrong in a lot of instances. You can tell highly emotional and exagerrated stories if feelings is what you care about. But if you want to study something carefully story telling is not a good method to go by. If however you want to entertain yourself and read a book then go ahead, I got no problem with that. Just when people take it too far. It is good to see you agree in that books do not make people smarter.

    "Fiction is good for developing emotional intelligence and empathy.":

    We would be so much more better as a species if we learned to be the rational animal. Our passions are okay to have but they need to be the slave to the intellect. For most people their intellect is slave to their passions. Such people cannot have freed minds if they are enslaved to what their passions tells them. Passions can be used for a lot of destruction and irrationality. But passions do not need to be rejected if they obey the intellect. If passions are the slave to the intellect then they can be used to make our pathetic existence a little more enjoyable.

    "Being Spock or Data (to pull a fictional reference you might get) ain't a great way to go through life.":

    I do not generally like fiction but those are two charachters from fiction that I like. My favorite fictional charachters are Spock, Data, Terminator, and Hannibal Leckter. Perhaps it is because out of all fiction I have ever seen these are the only charachters that made sense to me. I also like Eric Cartman - but I am not sure why.

  5. "Been evaluated for Aspergers?":

    I was called autistic but a psychologist when I was a little boy. Because I did not speak with anyone at school and preferred to be alone.

  6. Baruch,

    I don't think I was being clear. A good book can transport you to a certain time and place so you an experience it like you were there to some extant. A text book usually can't do this. So if you only read text books you would be missing out on a different kind of knowledge, namely experiential knowledge. Like if I wanted to learn about sex, I wouldn't read only a biology book, but I'd also watch a porn movie or read good erotic literature to make my knowledge more complete so I'd have a more direct and realistic view of the thing. Of course, the best kind of knowledge requires the actual experience i.e. actual sex. This applies to almost all areas of concern to humans. Our understanding of things would be much less without good books and movies