Isn’t All Reading Good?

Photo by Ryan Hyde. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Photo by Ryan Hyde. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Short answer: YES.

But some nuance is needed here.

And reading anything, I submit, is probably better for you than a lot of other ways of consuming your diversions. I’d rather have my son reading Daredevil comic books than watching the (admittedly excellent) Netflix series. All reading is good.

But acknowledging all reading is good is not the same as saying that all reading is equally good. The fact that a printed word winds up between covers is no guarantee of quality (nor, for that matter, is the inclusion of a work in a prestigious bestseller list, or on some professor’s list of required reading.)

“Good” and “bad,” “great” and “fish wrap” are all subjective. Entire libraries have been written to cover the debates about how to judge whether a book is good or not. I propose a highly subjective measure that fits the purpose of this project: a book is good if it means something to you.

Does a book raise you up just by reading it? Does it make you a better person? Does it change your life? Does it alter the way you see the world, the universe, or your role in either? Does it force you to question your pre-conceived notions? Does it make you happy, sad, angry?

Above all, is it unforgettable for a good reason?

Answering “yes” to any of those would imply that a book might belong on your list.

So all reading is good. What we’re focused on here is reading better. After all, making your reading unforgettable and meaningful is what raises it to more than just an activity with which to fill our shrinking inventory of empty hours.


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