The Books You Want to Read vs the Books You Need to Read: How to Balance?

You might have encountered this dilemma, especially during your university years. You want to read a novel, but you need to read that scientific research that will enrich your knowledge related to your professional field. How to make the right choice?

Yes, I know some people will say, “well, readings related to your professional field should make you feel good. Don’t you love your job?” And the answer may be yes or no! We may love our jobs and still, not feel like we constantly need to read books related to a specific topic only. We may always feel the need to expand our knowledge and read about other topics rather than, say, medicine. Or, our brains may need some relaxation and we may even prefer reading even cheesy romantic novels (cough, Danielle Steel, cough). And this is absolutely normal. 

Yet, we don’t smooth talk ourselves into balancing the reading that we want to do, and the reading that we need to do. We criticize ourselves for wasting time reading novels from which we get no benefit, whereas instead, each book we read provides us with new insights. 

I happen to be a victim of the same struggle too. While what I want to read is a feminist theory, I realize that I need to unfold other pre-existing aspects and theories on the social and economic development of humankind. I am currently autodidact-ing my way into Marxism, for instance, because I am an admirer of Marxist feminists, but I know that I need to explore more into the topic to really understand its nature. And have you happened to read Marx? As amazing of a brain as I consider him to be, reading The Capital is often an enormous headache. Yet, I know my ultimate goal is to understand the feminist movement better, its theory and practice, and that is why I need to balance out the two until they merge together.

So, from a personal experience, I suppose this is what can help you balance between the sort of books you want to read and the sort of books you need to read. Set your goals! But make sure your goals are not strictly professional. Allow yourself to give up reading books you simply do not understand at all. Allow yourself to drop the ones that have been tiring you for a while, and try reading some poetry instead. You can pick up the book you need to read after you feel a little bit more refreshed and like you can actually read with a fresher eye.

But I feel like the most important goal we owe to set for ourselves is to definitely prioritize books that contribute to our well-being. The ones that get us so involved, that we become ultimately at ease and forget about our surroundings. This, to me, is the greatest benefit one can get from reading.

 

 

Photo: Look Studio/Shutterstock

 


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