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Off my mind: The Power of Reading a Good Book

So the other day my Dad looked over at his bookshelf and asked my why I hardly ever read fiction novels. He is right about that, I mostly have biographies and true stories about traumatising events and a lot of making-of and art-of books about movies. And it made wonder about my books…

Of course I am a big fan of The Lord of the Rings and I grew up with the Harry Potter books, but looking into my growing collection of books I had to conclude that that’s about it. Why do I read the books I read?

Do you remember the moment when it struck you that this thing that was keeping you busy just became an official hobby? At some point it just became clear to me;  I am collecting good books! At least in my opinion of course. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t feel special about it. Millions across the world have been reading books for centuries. But it can still be a hobby. I love the chase of a finding a good read. Finding that one mind bending book between the millions out there. As we all do, I have a specific taste, and finding the right fit for that taste is something I find very hard. The saying goes that ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’, but in this day and age, with cheap online bookstores, it is hard not to judge a cover. A good first impression must be important, right?

Wrong. You actually can’t judge a book by its cover, but you will be influenced by it none the less. Cover art is becoming increasingly more important to stand out and make the sell. But another thing came along with the internet innovation. Companies like Google and Amazon keep huge databases filled with user information. What search words do you use? What books have you bought? What kind of websites do you visit? No wonder Google invests in so much different technologies. Google mail, Youtube, Google Plus, Google Drive, Google Maps, Google Documents… Now they know everything about you, and they use all this information to find patterns so that they understand the costumers needs. Once they know your needs they can advertise specifically for you. Many people find this trend frightening and even a violation of our privacy. And its true, we should be very weary about this change. Amazon, though, does this in the form of ‘Other people who bought this product also bought … ‘. And in this instance… I find it great! Because now I get all these suggestions that are within my interests and it keeps me from browsing through millions of other books.

Now they indirectly connect me with you. To someone who might have a similar taste and have a couple of good suggestions for me. It is a great filter, and people should recognise the opportunity that comes with it.

But buying a book will always be a gamble. And that is the fun part. That moment when the books arrives on your doormat is exciting. There are so many variables to having a good read. The subject, the style of the writing, the way to book feels and looks, etc. But there is more.

I consider myself a slow reader. I prefer english books above my native language Dutch, so maybe that makes me a slower reader. I know people that read a whole book in just one day! I don’t know how they do it, but I have to say… I don’t envy them at all. I actually like the fact that it takes me a while for me to finish a book. On average a good book takes me about 1,5 and 2 weeks to finish. Given that I read about a hour+ each day. This gives me time to really absorb what I have read though, and live with the story for days whilst I get deeper into it over the next two weeks.

Finishing a really good book feels like winning a trophy. Not because it was so hard to finish, but because it was so ‘hard’ to find it in the first place. Thats why I want to have a hard copy of the book to put it on a shelve. Even though the chances of me reading that book again will be very little, its nice to have it there. And lets me honest here… having your own olds school library is kinda sexy. Another reason to keep working on it!

Read on!

Published in 2012 Algemeen


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