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Eureka: A lifetime of reading in 5 minutes
by Joseph Gatt
2018-08-17 08:32:36
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You are an elementary school kid. You have a fascination with any atlas and with world leaders. You have a particular fascination with 20th century leaders, and an ever greater fascination with political assassinations. Your teachers berate you for those interests and suggest you turn away from politics.

Middle school. You take your teachers' word and switch to fiction pocket books. You develop a fascination about stories of kids whose friendship develops, teenagers who fall in love, or with teenagers who end up in dystopian situations.

books01_400High school. You shut that voice of teachers who told you to stay away from politics and you start reading political fiction and non-fiction. You read Richard Nixon's portrait of leaders he has met and realize that Nixon had been vice-president for 8 years. You read books dealing with behind the scenes stories of political life in France and the United States. You also read every book you can find about terrorism, Islamic terrorism and Islamic terrorism victims.

College. You develop a fascination with the Soviet Union and North Korea not out of Communism but out of anti-Communism. You also develop and almost unhealthy fascination with Israel, Israel politics and society, but there's always something missing. Books tell one story, international media tells a completely different story. You also have an almost unhealthy fascination with yearbooks and thematic encyclopedias.

Grad school. You focus on inter-Korean relations and start reading international political classics. Huntington, Max Weber, Keohane, Joseph Nye, Giddens, and will read anything about international security policy.

Post-graduate school. You start diversifying your reading. You devour every linguistics textbook you can find, read anything you can find on linguistics. But you also read books on the sociology of deviance and the sociology of sexuality, neurology, psychology, and read every book by Malcolm Gladwell, Steven Pinker, Deborah Tannen, Alvin Toffler you can find. You also read books about literature, poetry, China, Korea, lots of books on Korea, and teaching languages.

You then read books about feminism and every self-help book you can find. You read Nassim Nicholas Taleb's the Black Swan, and read Steven Pinker's the Better Angels of our nature cover to cover. You read books about business and politics, and start examining language textbooks.

You develop interest in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, and start reading weird books like the history of salt, the history of water and the history of food. You read the Illyad, the Odyssey and the Enid, and start reading every religious book you can find. You read the Bible, the Quran, the Talmud, the Zohar, the Book of Mormon, the Bhagavad Gita, the Uppanishads, the Diamond Sutras, the Yoga Sutras of Panthanjali, The Book of Dao, the Confucius Analects, the Mencius, the Great Learning and the Doctrine of the Mean and the Moonie Divine Principle.

You also read physics textbooks, history textbooks, economics textbooks, biology textbooks, math textbooks, computer science textbooks, communication textbooks, books about genetics, physics, evolution, politics, the 2016 electoral campaign, books praising Donald Trump, books criticizing Donald Trump, books about intimacy at the white house, and books about the secret services. Books about the CIA, books about money management, books about writing, Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, The Count of Monte Cristo cover to cover, Crime and Punishment cover to cover, War and Peace cover to cover and every Dan Brown book.

Yet you apply for jobs and get nothing but rejections. You still want to read the latest Dan Brown, Tom Clancy, David Baldacci, Jules Verne (amazingly you have never read a single book by Jules Verne), Stephen King (amazingly you have never read a single book by Stephen King), Victor Hugo, Marcel Proust, Kant, Hegel, Hobbes, Thomas Payne, Murray Rothbard, Ludwig Von Mesis, Hayek and so many, so many others.

And for the record you have read the Bridget Jones diary, the Capital by Karl Marx, 4 of the 5 tomes of Adam Smith's the Wealth of nations (boring and repetitive) and a couple of books written by Donald J. Trump. And of course Obama's books, Bill Clinton's autobiography, George W. Bush's autobiography and his biography of his father, Colin Powell's autobiography, Nelson Mandela's autobiography and Alice in Wonderland. And many other titles. Legal books, astronomy books, fashion books, Tina Fey's autobiography, some book by Ellen DeGeners. And you're broke. Time to binge on movies. I missed all the superhero action movies lately, and haven't watched Woody Allen for a decade. I used to pride myself with watching every single one of his movies. And I haven't watched La la land. And then all my friends go like “books, that's supposed to be for decoration!”

Let me finish with an anecdote. When the Da Vinci code movie came out, I knew there was no way it could be a good movie. Having read the book carefully, I knew it was very hard to make a good movie out of it. I watched to movie with a group of friends, hoping to be surprised. Maybe the director changed portions of the book, I thought. All my friends had claimed to have read the book and not one of them had hinted at the technical difficulty of making a good movie out of it. They were very disappointed by the ending, which I won't spoil. I thought you guys read the book, I smiled.

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