A man reading a book

The Drug of Reading Books

My alarm goes off every morning at 6:30 a.m., and my first thought is always the same thing: What am I reading today? I’m so excited to get up, find my books, and get lost in my thoughts. I have no predilection toward drugs or other distraction because reading fills every gap in my life.

Right now, I’m loving René Descartes’s A Discourse on the Method. Descartes is an intellectual hero of mine for his rigor in questioning “knowledge.” He cared about how he thought, not just what he thought. There’s value in analyzing your process for thinking. Are you swayed by bias? Do you know how to acquire credible sources or do you jump at every conspiracy theory, religious belief, and social media snafu simply because the ideas are shared by someone with conviction?

In his own words, “I have fashioned a method by which, it seems to me, I have a way of adding progressively to my knowledge and raising it by degrees to the highest point that the limitations of my mind and the short span of life allotted to me will permit it to reach” (Descartes 6).

Descartes did not consider himself a genius. In fact, he felt like he was intellectually average in many respects. That’s why he developed systems that would help him acquire knowledge. He was infuriated by “magical” thinking of the day which included the false promises of alchemy, occultism, and magic in general. As society trended towards these obsessions, Descartes valued logic and rationalism. “I learned not to believe too firmly in anything that only example and custom had persuaded me of. So it was that I freed myself gradually from many of the errors that can obscure the natural light of our minds, and make them less able to see reason” (Descartes 11).

I’m so happy to have books in my life. Instead of getting swept up in whatever distraction befalls me on the internet, I get to wake up and be purposeful with my attention. I can spend my day fighting with people on Twitter, or I can read Descartes and learn from a master.

It’s a no-brainer.

Until tomorrow, read slowly – take notes – apply the ideas.



Works Cited:

Descartes, René, and Ian Maclean. A Discourse on the Method of Correctly Conducting One’s Reason and Seeking Truth in the Sciences. Oxford University Press, 2008.

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One thought on “The Drug of Reading Books

  1. I was wondering if you knew where we got “SNAFU” from? It closely related to “FUBAR” and was a derivitive of the work of Theodore Suess Geisel.

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