Reading, I believe, is something that many of us practice (perhaps) daily, but often unreflectively, if not even unconsciously—much like breathing. If only we lived as dependently on reading as we do on breathing for the continuance of life. By way of metaphor, to aid your consideration of active, engaged reading, I point out that in many forms of meditation this usually ignored activity of breathing should be at the forefront of consciousness.
With similarly heightened concentration, does the book you are reading come to your mind’s forefront and become the focus of your thought? Do you work to understand the message the author has worked to present to you? Do you read works that exercise your mind? This is just as important as exercising your body.
What about works that stretch your spirit as well as your mind? For such works exist. The great philosophical traditions of the East and West have been passed down through the ages primarily to us through the written word. So their benefits and their mysteries can only be unlocked by reading them—well.
As I am now at a point in my life where there are fewer years ahead than behind, I have become much more concerned about what materials I devote my reading time to and to reading books that are full-course literary feasts, rather than printed junk food.
And I find fine meals on a pauper’s budget. In the past year, I purchased and read affordable paperback editions of classics—the Tao Te Ching, The War of the Worlds,Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, among others, all cheaper than most magazines and eminently more deserving of your reading time and attention. I finally landed that leviathan of a novel, Moby-Dick, and was set back only five bucks (all Dover editions). Actually, it was an investment. Voyaging with Ahab and crew is worth your time. I shall sail with them again one day soon.
For those who claim little time to read, I counter that the day has pockets of time available to