11 Ways Reading IS Legitimate Personal Experience

Given that we still live in an era of anti-intellectualism–we can only see it better now because of the Internet–scholars and thinkers are regularly attacked. Over the past decade, I have been criticized and deemed incompetent because I read “too much” dozens of times. Oh, the irony.

People say, “you only read, you do not have any life experience, you do not actually know anything.” Or, “if you lived in the real world for a second, you would actually know something.”

I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten comments like this. Not only do these coded-responses say, “I don’t have anything nicer or more informed to say,” they also reek of blind privilege and ethnocentrism. Such reactions suggest that a person has only, ever for 24/7 read (which wouldn’t really be such a bad thing minus sleep deprivation!). Suggest a fear of knowledge and of difference.  And try to place the sum of a person’s existences in a rigid box. 

Additionally, as Professor Sara Goldrick-Rab said this week on Facebook, “Anti-intellectualism is profoundly raced, gendered, and yes anti-Semitic. And it’s spreading like wildfire.”

In response, here are 11 ways reading is legitimate personal experience. And not just legitimate, but very important personal experience. 

1. Reading articles and books always manifests multi-directional, dynamic, always-changing, and unique relationships. (Called hermeneutics from a theoretical perspective.)

2. Reading allows one to gain personal experience beyond the necessarily very limited experience a person can get independently.

3. Reading allows us to benefit from the personal experience of dozens of people simultaneously.      

4. Reading enable us to participate in a centuries-old tradition of communicating in forms of writing.

5. Reading makes us better thinkers and writers and speakers. 

6. Reading automatically teaches us geography, History, anthropology, astronomy, poetry, psychology, political science, and everything else. 

7. Reading welcomes us to entertain and adopt, adapt, or not any number of thoughts, any infinite number. 

8. Reading allows us insight into the soul of another person. 

9. Books and their ideas, unlike any of us, can exist into perpetuity.  

10. Ideas gained from reading become very deeply part of who we are. 

11. Reading is always about learning, thinking, changing, and exploring

People who demonize readers and thinkers have a fundamental misunderstanding and blindness as to how the world has operated and advanced. 

Here’s a few quick pictures of most of my books. I have about 2000 altogether. Click the pictures, and if you’re like me, you’ll enjoy seeing what titles you recognize! 🙂 BTW, I am completely out of room for books! 😦