The power of reading

by Joseph Mabor Agany a.k.a. Joe

What attitude do you have towards reading? Do you want to be successful in university or life in general? Although a few people find pleasure in reading, many take it as a burden and never dare to read at their will. But do you know what reading can do for you? Though many of us know that reading can make one successful and wise, we tend to avoid it due to a bad impression towards reading that was developed at an early age.

Many of us hated reading in school probably because we had struggled to memorise what our teachers had given us in order to pass exams. The continued improvement in quality of life is done through learning.  Reading is learning. Without learning there is no progress in life. It is therefore important to understand the power of reading in our life process. Reading enhances our academic performance in school. Students who like to read usually perform much better than those who don’t.

 Ask any A student what makes him or her an A student and he or she will most likely tell you that he or she reads a lot. Although there are many factors for success in school, one cannot be lazy to read and expect to perform well. Many students who perform poorly in schools are made to believe that they are dumb and that those who perform highly are born geniuses.

In my former high school, a classmate came to me after our exam results were announced and emotionally told me that I was so fortunate to have been given a better brain. I told her that we have the same brain and that if she had put in more effort to study before the exams she would have performed better.

There are many stories of students who once performed poorly in school that later turned things around and became top performing students in their classes. A living example is the retired renowned US Pediatric Neurosurgeon, Republican Dr. Ben Carson. Dr. Ben was at the last rank of fifth grade class and his classmates called him “dummy” but after his mother required that he and his brother read two books a week, he was at the top of his class within a year (Think Big, Dr. Ben Carson). Ben, the dummy of his class, later made history in 1987 by separating Siamese twins that were joined at the back of the head. In his book, Think Big, Dr. Carson stated that books are the mechanism for obtaining knowledge, as opposed to television. If there is one thing you can do to improve your academic performance, get your nose into the books.

More importantly, reading can change one’s mindset. Some people grow with a poor mindset that can hinder success in all aspects of their life such as their profession, relationships, business or health. There are psychology books that can help change one’s mental outlook, many of which were written by great achievers who had once experienced the same attitude towards life.

Jim Rohn confessed in his Best Ever Training that he was always complaining and blaming everything bad that had happened in his life on factors such as the government, economy, and community. After changing his mindset through books, he became a billionaire. He believed that self-education is necessary in order to succeed as he said in one of his famous quotes: “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune”.

Personally, I was a terrible pessimist who would stay up in bed all night thinking about how miserably I might fail in everything. This negativity affected me really badly in many aspects of my life but through books I now look at how I can succeed in my undertakings and imagine success instead of failure. I have read quite a few books which enabled me to look at things in a different perspective. If you are the kind of person that only thinks of the worst things that may happen to you, I recommend you read “The power of positive thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale.

Lastly, another important dividend of reading is self-discovery. As I quote from Aldous Huxley “There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self”, self-discovery is the most important step toward a successful and meaningful life journey. If you don’t know who you are and what you want, you will live in confusion which causes frustration and unhappiness. This is because when we are not sure of ourselves or our own goals, we tend to compare ourselves to others which would cause frustrations as we will never be like them because you are a different person.

Anna Quindlen put it in her quote: “In books I have travelled, not only to other worlds but into my own. I learned who I was and who I wanted to be, what I might aspire to, and what I might dare to dream about my world and myself”. So in books you travel deep into yourself and discover your strengths and weaknesses. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses enable you to use and exploit your inner strengths fully and maintain your weaknesses.

In conclusion, we should develop a good attitude towards reading not during our school era but also throughout our lives. There are many reasons why reading is important; enhancing academic performance, changing negative mindsets and self-discovery are only a few of them. a common characteristic among high performing students is that they enjoy reading. Our perception is affected by our surroundings and as such we may develop a negative mindset that will hinder our progress in life but through reading and learning we change and develop a better mindset. More importantly, we should discover our strengths and weaknesses in order to know where to improve and maintain. I believe that each of us can tap into his or her ability to read and get the pleasure of continuous learning which also makes him/her a valuable asset to the society.


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