In the ever-evolving landscape of reading and learning, numerous applications have gained popularity, offering the ability to meticulously track one's reading progress. These digital platforms seem to promise an enhanced reading experience, allowing users to publicly signal to their personal and professional networks that they have embarked on the journey of a new book and have managed to reach the finish line. Yet, this growing trend has inadvertently cast a shadow over the true essence of reading, causing a ripple effect of negative impact on society.
The first critical repercussion involves the subtle promotion of a misguided sense of accomplishment. These applications, with their progress bars and completion percentages, create an illusion that the act of finishing a book - of turning the last page - is a victory in itself. This perspective is fundamentally flawed. Finishing a book, in the literal sense of having turned all its pages, does not equate to having internalized all the insights and lessons it holds. The real measure of accomplishment isn't about how quickly or how many pages were turned, but rather, it’s about the depth of understanding and knowledge acquired from the book.
This concept is far from novel. In fact, it closely mirrors the approach taken in academic institutions, where textbooks are not merely read, but studied in depth. The focus is on understanding the main points, the key arguments, and the overarching themes. However, this raises a pertinent question: Would it be more beneficial to read these academic books from cover to cover? If the answer leans towards yes, it might indicate a serious flaw in our educational system.
The act of reading a book from beginning to end, without pausing for reflection or deeper comprehension, is arguably an inferior way to fully grasp the multitude of lessons a book can offer. To truly extract maximum value from a book, one needs to do more than just read it. One needs to analyze the book, dissect its arguments, study its narratives, and reflect on its lessons.
The act of studying a book, however, isn't typically associated with leisure or entertainment. It's a process that is reminiscent of a school environment where dissecting a book is a common practice. In the realm of day-to-day life, it might be less common to 'study' a book. It's certainly acceptable but less frequently articulated. This discrepancy prompts us to question the underlying reasons for this divergence.
The process of studying a book might entail a more significant time investment, which could potentially slow down the progress depicted on your reading tracker applications. However, when we focus on the end goal, the individual who has meticulously studied the book, who has delved into its depths, stands at a more advantageous position than the one who has merely flipped through its pages.
In an academic setting, the knowledge acquired by students from their textbooks is tested and evaluated. Depending on the level of understanding demonstrated, they are awarded a letter or numbered grade. This method, while effective in a controlled educational environment, doesn't translate seamlessly into the unstructured school of life, where there isn't a predetermined curriculum or a defined learning path.
Consider a practical scenario: Someone embarking on a business venture could derive more value from intensively studying and dissecting 20 relevant books, rather than casually reading 100 books. The time invested might be equivalent, but the depth of understanding and the quality of insights acquired would be significantly higher.
In a business context, the individual who read 20 books while navigating the challenges of running a business would naturally have a multitude of questions. They would approach the books seeking answers, focusing on the parts relevant to their situation, and might dismiss the irrelevant sections. If we were to evaluate them based on their knowledge of the entire book, they might not score high.
This scenario brings us to a significant realization: There isn't any real way to track your reading if your goal is to gain knowledge. If your intent is to read for vanity metrics, then tracking your reading, self-reporting how much you read, and receiving applause becomes feasible. However, figuring out how to accurately record the insights and lessons learned from a book remains an unsolved challenge.