Is Reading Books Superior To Other Forms Of Recreation?
Reading books has always been touted as the surefire way to improve one’s mind, gain knowledge and do well in life. By ‘reading’ what is meant here is perusing a written work either in its physical form or digital form. There was a time in human history when reading books was in fact one of the very few recreational activities available to man. However, things are different now. One could pick any hobby from a range of activities available; playing videogames, creating YouTube videos, blogging, watching Netflix movies or just watching television. Does reading take a back seat these days as a form of recreation? Or is it still superior to other forms of recreation even in the 21st century high-tech world?
The benefits of reading have been well-established. Reading the right kind of books develops the mind, especially at an impressionable age. It also develops one’s imagination, as the events in a book are not visually experienced, but are only seen in the mind’s eye. And no doubt, books contain the wisdom of our ancestors, their life experiences, the lessons they learnt and the mistakes they made. They are a very useful guide for life. Besides, language teachers have always advised their students to read books if they wanted to improve their linguistic skills. However, the most important reason perhaps for reading to being the preferred form of recreation in the past is that reading fiction was the only form of escape from the mundane realities of life. It was a world that one could escape to at any time, as the book was at one’s disposal and could be read at any time. This holds true for both physical and digital books, though there are many people who consider themselves ‘old school’ and loves the feel of the book in their hands. The younger generations are much more used to the digital version, e.g. Kindle.
The question is, with all these benefits of reading books being very clear, is it a superior form of recreation to others such as watching a movie?
The youngsters of today might prefer watching a movie to reading a book, mainly because visual images are more attractive than the written word, and also because a movie is over in two hours at most, whereas good books take up many hours. People who play video games in their free time cherish the rush of adrenaline that every virtual battle induces in them, and they might even say that they are being ‘sociable’ while playing online games since they are playing with real people whose ‘avatars’ they are fighting. People who listen to classical music would vouch for the calm and serenity that it provides.
The biggest time consumer and the most popular hobby in modern times of most people seem to be spending time on social media. They might be chatting with friends or scrolling through Facebook or admiring their favourite celebrities’ Instagram posts. They could be watching TikTok videos or commenting on a YouTube video that someone posted. The friends that they chat with could be people they have met in real life, or they could be someone they have never met and are never likely to meet. Spending time on social media has become a hobby that consumes the time and energy of young and old alike.
If we compare reading books with spending time on social media, the former emerges the winner as the more beneficial hobby, and hence the superior one. In fact, spending time on social media can be considered to be a hobby that is detrimental to personal growth and enrichment. However, if we compare reading to other hobbies such as blogging, or vlogging (which is the expression of ideas through videos), the scales are more even. How about watching movies? Yes, you can learn a lot from movies and documentaries.
However, are these alternatives wholesome hobbies that can, in and by themselves, enrich and entertain at the same time? Do they educate while they entertain? Do they give you words and phrases to remember forever? Do they contain the finest expressions of language known to man and give wings to one’s imagination? Hardly so. This, then, is the forte of the activity of reading. And considered thus, reading books is superior to any other form of recreation.