Podcasts, videos, and articles.
That’s what I wrote about on Sunday. But, what about the primary way that I consume content? Books.
I love how thought out they are. There’s structure. I can form a fuller picture and a greater overall understanding of a topic. Take Ronald Reagan, for example, whom I recently read a book about. Let’s imagine that you want to attain an understanding of his overall life and learn about who he was before, during, and after the presidency.
Hearing a podcast could about him have been a great way to learn. But, probably only as a good introduction. There might have been some good information provided yet likely without many sources for follow-up research.
Watching a video might have been great. There are, of course, many great videos about Ronald Reagan. But, my hesitancy there is the ease of watching. You can’t exactly highlight a particular sentence or two in the video. And while this might be a great way to gain content, what if you wanted to only learn about a portion of his presidency?
Finally, an article, there are plenty of those. Especially during his 8 years in office, he was written about and reported on a lot. So, there is no lack of supply in articles about Ronald Reagan. Yet, those could be more subjective pieces and provide, again, less of a full picture.
So, I believe that a book is the best way to go here.
My intentions are to learn about a wide range of topics and people. I would love to be able to converse with anyone about just about anything and be able to contribute to the conversation.
Most of my focus in learning revolves around how to do that effectively.
I might know a little about a certain political happening because of 3 or 4 articles I read on that subject. But, what’s more important I believe, is being able to communicate that effectively.
Conversations that surround politics and political events typically involve people closely tied to their views and perspectives as well as strong emotions.
What if in a conversation, something is said that upsets the conversing party? How can that be avoided?
Also, it can be assumed that while people may believe the same thing, they will believe in that same thing for different reasons.
Without a full understanding of the background of the belief, you might be at quite a disadvantage. It might be easy for the person sharing in the conversation with you to simply that they will not hear your perspective because you don’t understand.
That’s plausible, isn’t it? And that’s a problem.
I never want to be “booted” from a conversation simply because I cannot effectively express my understanding of a situation or belief. Do you?
People, myself included, often only have a brief understanding of something.
Before reading about Ronald Reagan, I knew he was well respected, a president late in the 20th Century, and a Christian man.
But, without reading the book, that’s all I might know. So when someone would have told me that he walked out of a high-pressure international meeting, I wouldn’t understand that. Perhaps I’d like to know more about that because to me it seemed out of character. But, the person that I was conversing with wouldn’t or couldn’t provide anything more to explain why that was something Reagan would do.
That’s where books come in — context.
As I wrote on Sunday, “you are only as good as the content you consume.”
If all you know is what other people — who might know as much as you — tell you, how good are you?
Books require, usually, over a year of work to go from writing to publishing. There is a lot more time required and focus on providing the right thing than there is for podcasts, videos, or articles, which can all be produced and published within a day.
As a result, one might presume that a book author has a greater focus on ensuring factuality and accuracy.
They might not, but, they list sources regardless so that we may do our own fact-checking and verifying of information provided.
I’ll bring it home now.
We might read books for different reasons. Some people don’t even read books at all.
There may be plenty of reasons,
I know people don’t read books because they don’t have time
I know people don’t read books because they see no value
I know people don’t read books because they read slow
I know people don’t read books because they cannot stay focused
What’s your reason?
I read because I want to understand things in-depth. I want to understand people and understand what makes them “tick” (why I like biographies). I want to understand what others did to get through tough times or failures so I can use what they did to help myself and others through similar challenges.
It’s a lot easier to explain things to others when you understand the concept fully.
Why do years of experience matter when we look at where to go for the dentist? Why do people wait to get married rather than getting married after the first date? Why do sports teams give smaller contracts to rookies than they do experienced players?
People have been able to mold into who they are, have been able to show themselves and have empowered the people they’re with to understand them better also.
If I want to share what I’m learning, it’s essential that I actually learn something. If I reflected on one thing that Ronald Reagan did during his presidency but then couldn’t elaborate upon why I felt that was important or impactful, what good is that?
To share what we think, the why, the reason why we think that certain thing is most important.
Why would people listen to what we think if we cannot share why we think that??
It happens often though. People often share their thoughts on something without backing it up or sharing why. But, why? Just to make conversation? Maybe.
But, wouldn’t our conversations be much more fruitful if we were able to understand why people believe what they do? Isn’t that what we want to speak to? The inner beliefs or values?
That’s why I read. People share that in books, they HAVE to. You cannot write 200 pages about something without framing it in a way that reveals your position or without explicitly sharing what you think.
James Rosebush, the author of the Ronald Reagan biography I read, would frequently talk about what Reagan did, share why he did something, from his perspective, and share what that meant to him as the Deputy Assistant to the President.
If there’s any reason I read books, it’s because they are organized. I read books because they are structured. I read books because they are easy to organize.
I can look at my bookshelf (now organized by the DDC, Dewey Decimal Classification System) and see what subject areas I am lacking. I can clearly and quickly observe where I need to continue to learn and gain more knowledge as I can fill up my library with a fuller range of subject areas and topics.
Ultimately, from books I can form more full beliefs and also quickly show others where my beliefs source from.
I don’t read for fun, though it is sometimes, I read to learn.