Monday, August 31, 2009

Reading Makes You a Better Person

The fundamental difference between adults is those who read and those who don't ... Those who read are better people. They are able to travel with their imagination, so they can look at things from different perspectives and don't take things at face value. They are more mature and tolerant and therefore more realistic about the complexity of life. More than with cinema and theatre, books not only generate emotion but make people think.
Italian writer Vincenzo Cerami speaking at the Melbourne Writers Festival. Cerami collaborated with actor/director Roberto Benigni on the Oscar winner Life is Beautiful (La Vita e' Bella).

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Though reading is important, I think it takes more than reading to make one a better person.

bibliobibuli said...

don't think anyone would want to disagree with you that there are other forces shaping a child's personality. so self-evident, innit?

but read what the piece is actually saying. spelling it out - a person is going to be better person if they read than if they do not read.

Anonymous said...

reading not only makes people better..but more understanding and tolerant too..provided they are reading the right things..people often read books or materials that in someway or another provide answers, alternative views, or insights into things they are trying to understand in their own lives...so this in a way will make them better at understanding those issues..

kenwooi said...

i dont read that much anymore. am i a not so better person now? lol.. =)

kenwooi.com

Argus Lou said...

"Those who read are better people." That statement gives an uneasy feeling; it's a tad elitist and simple minded. I'm sure you know well-read people who are total jackasses and people who don't read who are lovely, undertstanding and kind.

Anonymous said...

Reading is a hobby. Thinking is better. Wide reading has become a cult, as your blog shows. I know many more solipsists among readers than among non-readers. People read all books that are written just to say I have read. Enuff said.

I agree, to say that reading makes a better person does sound a tad elitist.
It doesn't do you harm if you have not read many books. But it harms you if you do not think.

A lot of stuff out there are trash, but hyped by commercial travellers to be must-reads.
PS My word verification is 'babil', Arabic for Babel.

- Bibendum

manglish said...

did someone once say, "you become the page that you read"? So does it depend on what you are reading? I would like to think that I am very literature really....I can sit and read Vogue, from cover to cover :)

Anonymous said...

Hello Sharon! Just thought to share this, the latest pic featured belongs to an Asian Cha editor: http://sittingprettymagazine.blogspot.com/

Sort of like the Guardian eh :) cheers, Mag

ah pong said...

a better (or worse) person is a very subjective thing. but one thing for sure is that readers (of good books) FEEL the world better. i mean stockbrokers or accountants and the like who work till late in the evening and come back and drop dead and go to work again the next day... they are no better than a poor african villager living in a hut thinking of how to get their next meal ...they just live the life of animals...

Anonymous said...

Ah Pong -

You forget that, anytime they wanted to, they could just quit and write. You can't say the same for your average African villager.

Damyanti said...

Reading does make you a better person than what you would be if you did not read.

But that could be relative.

WHAT you read does have a great bearing on how much you improve intellectually/spiritually/ morally (fill in an area of improvement here) as a person.

ah pong said...

that guy who shot john lennon was carrying catcher in the rye when he commited the crime. i guess that either make him a better person because he reads good books or
since he is obviously a bad person by the same argument you can say catcher in the rye is a bad book??....

i once saw a homeless person sleeping under a bridge in london and he had lords of the rings beside his wine bottle.

billions of people read the bible, the Quran, upanishad , mahabarata or whatever but they are still at each other's throats.(and nobody can claim that these are not some of the best books in the world)...

BorneoExpatWriter said...

I'm finding this discussion fascinating. Before I moved to Sarawak I got out of the habit of reading for various reasons -- full-time teaching, part-time writing, small children.

Then I stopped watching TV and reading the newspapers (all that depressing stuff, which I still glean online and via Newsweek) and began to read about an hour a day, which over the last three years has translated into 150 books, about half of those on personal development (mostly), history/religion/philosophy (some), and I'm seeing a shift in how I think.

I like to think I'm becoming a better, more tolerant, person. I'm seeing the results in my writing, too, and in my family life. For me, reading more is definitely working, but it also depends on what you read. Are you taking in stuff that makes you think differently (better about yourself and the world) or stuff that's making you more narrow minded or cynical?

I'm glad I got back into habit of reading again. I highly recommend it, too.

Reading also makes you humble. You realize there's a lot of stuff out there that can help enrich your life in a variety of ways.

And if money is an issue (it used to be for me), I borrow most of the books I've read from the library. Another great re-discovery!

Reading -- you have nothing to lose (except some TV time) and a whole world to gain!

Damyanti said...

"billions of people read the bible, the Quran, upanishad , mahabarata or whatever but they are still at each other's throats.(and nobody can claim that these are not some of the best books in the world)..."


I am not so sure people actually read these books and understand them on their own, like they would read any other book. There are too many levels of "interpretations" of these books, and these interpreters lead people to go at each other's throats.

YTSL said...

Agree with those who suggested that it depends on WHAT you read and with how much ability to digest it, take things with a pinch of salt when necessary, etc.... Sure, you want to encourage people to read but getting them interested in reading is just the start.

karim said...

An insightfull post. Will definitely help.

Thanks,
Karim - Positive thinking