Based in Vancouver, Canada, this is a blog by Michael Argast. My areas of interest include travel, economics, technology, the environment, personal development and other eclectic topics.

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I’m often amazed by statistics I read that state that 80% of adults never read another book after high school. If so, an incredible number of people are cutting themselves off of an avenue of adventure and growth.

I understand how busy we all are, but even so, there are many short reads that can be handled on a lazy Sunday afternoon - Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea, or if you prefer non-fiction Buffet on Reading Financial Reports or Tyson’s Busy Person’s Guide to Astrophysics.

The amount of time, energy and thought authors use to distill the best of their ideas and get them on the written page makes so many books worthwhile. And while I understand that some people prefer to ‘just watch the movie’ the book is almost always better.

Aside: not to say that some movies aren’t an addition to the written word. Jackson’s LOTR trilogy, Kubrick’s 2001, Blade Runner to Phillip K. Dick’s I Dream of Electric Sheep. Although, to be honest, I do prefer to accept some cognitive dissonance and believe I live in the parallel universe where the Hobbit was made as a single movie, there were no sequels to 2001 filmed (or written, frankly) and of course the Matrix was only ever a solo endeavour.

That being said, who’s responsible - the reader or the author? Some authors suck you in from the first page (King, Chrichton, Dan Brown). Others make you work for it - Stephensen comes to mind. And some authors seem to have made an assumption that once you’ve committed yourself and read the first hundred or three hundred pages you’re in it for the long haul.

In the same way none of us should feel the need to eat everything at the all you can eat buffet, I also think it is okay to pick up and graze a book and commit the blasphemy of not finishing it. And that’s not a failure of the reader, but the author. In fact, I think there are whole genres of books (business books and ‘self help’ books and most books by Malcolm Gladwell) that are actually better served by only reading the first third.

But, at the end of the day, most people should read more. Cheaper than travel, for introverts easier than exposing yourself to people from all walks of life, it is one of the most effective ways of exposing yourself to a world of ideas and expanding your mind, and life.

Budgeting sucks (financial advice)