Can I Read A Book?

People often set independent, home-study educational goals for themselves and then, before long, bail out on the goal.  Many career opportunities are only available to those who are willing to take the initiative to read and learn on their own.  What can be done to help people to take advantage of the employment opportunities that come from books?

For example, consider the case of reading a book which teaches something useful about computers.  This is a book which will, as you read it, add to your marketable job-skills and useful life-skills.  No matter what level someone is currently at in their knowledge of computers, they can certainly find a book that will teach them something useful – and a book that will meet them where they are at.  The goal is do-able, worthwhile and profitable.  So why do people tend to start and then give up?

10 x 30 = 300

The simplest explanation is that most people just lack the self-discipline to consistently keep on keeping on with the worthwhile goals that they set for themselves.  For example, lets suppose that a book is 300 pages long – and it is written at a level that the reader is currently capable of digesting.  Then, he should be able to read a few pages every day (lets say 10 – that should be easy enough if he is not working), and then finish the whole thing in 30 days.  This is obviously a great idea on so many levels.  So why is it so rarely done?

There are no books

Maybe some people don’t read educational books because they don’t have access to them.  That is probably a valid excuse in some parts of the world, but, for the vast majority of American’s there is a library or bookstore that is reasonably nearby.  So what’s the next excuse?

The books are too hard – or too easy

Sometimes people say:  ”I tried to read a book, but it was too hard for me to understand it.”  Okay, so the obvious answer is that you need to find a more basic level book, right?  Go back to the library.  A slight variation on this idea is to say:  ”that book was too easy for me.”  Same answer.  What’s the next excuse?

I’m not really that interested in it

Maybe its just not that important?  Okay, no problem.  So, how did we get started talking about this topic, by the way?  Lets back up for a minute.

In life, for adults, you are either independently wealthy, or a ward of the state, or you kind of have to find a way to provide for your own needs.  Most people solve that problem by getting a job.  Chances are, that that is where you are at.  But the thing is that, generally speaking, the pay is commensurate with experience and education.  So, do you want the job that pays very little or a lot?  If you want to earn more, then you need to learn more.

Of course there are all kinds of exceptions, like “its not what you know, its who you know.”  Those things are true (sometimes) – but it is the exception that proves the rule.  For your average person, the most basic rule is: “a better education equals a better career   opportunity.”

So, of course, you don’t have to be interested in reading books.  But, on the other hand, your prospective employer does not have to be interested in giving you the good job, either.  All else being equal, employers prefer people who have more useful knowledge over people who have less.

Unusual mental illness?

Another possibility is that our would-be book-reader has some unusual mental illness that causes him to be unable to read or think.  But what is the likelihood of that?  Imagine, for a moment, if you will, a group of 100 people, each of whom is able to read well enough that they could slog through this article up to this point.  But each of these 100 people then says to themselves:  ”Hey!  Yes!  That’s me! I have a unusual psychiatric illness that makes me unable to read or think!”  Now, ask yourself this question:  How many of those people do you suppose are actually psychiatrically sick – and how many are just professional excuse makers?  (Remember, each of the 100 were able to read up to this point.)

In any case, if you think that you might have an illness, then, by all means, please visit your doctor or psychiatrist.  But if you think that part of your problem might also be that you are just kind of lazy, then please consider taking advantage of the free help that is available through People Against Laziness.

I tend to be unlucky

It may be that you will end up dying without ever becoming self-supporting.  It may be that, even though you faithfully work to improve your marketability, and you faithfully read a few pages every day in a book that will help you to find and carry out a job, and you consistently look for work – still, it may be that you will just be very unlucky and you will end up destitute and unemployed forever.  But how likely is that?  Lets examine two different scenarios:

Here I am on my death bed …

Lets imagine that you really are kind of unlucky.  Eventually, you will find yourself at the end of your life, poor, broke and unemployed.  Then, would you prefer to be able to look back over your life and say:

Well, at least I gave it a shot.  I always read ten pages every day in a book that helped me to learn more about my career field.  In the last twenty years I must have read upwards of about 250 technical books – each of which helped me to improve my job skills.  Come to think of it, I guess it is kind of weird that I was never able to find any work …

Or would you rather look back and say:

I knew it really wasn’t going to work anyway, and that I would always and forever be unemployed – so I’m glad that I didn’t waste any time reading books.  I am glad that I spent my time doing things that I enjoyed  (like TV and video games.)  I am also glad that I spent some time grieving over my failure and loss in life (which I always knew would be my unavoidable destiny.)  As a matter of fact, I once saw a show that said that grieving is an important part of the process when a person is dying.  Well, I’ve done a lot of grieving, so I guess I’m ready to die now …

So which outcome do you want to have?  Also, on the outside chance that, by educating yourself, it might actually improve your chances to find a job – then doesn’t it (kind of) make sense that the life-path of learning is better than the life-path of giving up?

Now … where did I put that book, again?


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6 Responses to Can I Read A Book?

  1. Ideas says:

    That was good. Very true about having a tough time reading books.
    I think that for me it has to do with perfectionism too. In any case though u make a very valid point about how education (including self-education) really does (over time) have a measurable effect on what kind of job u can get

  2. MVNJ says:

    The article is good. There are other situations that could be included in the area discussing psychiatric illnesses – I think broadening the spectrum from just psychiatric to a topic of disabled people instead. Like dyslexia – it is hard for people with dyslexia to learn how to read, right? It was not offensive to me to read about the section talking about psychiatric illnesses – but I just thought that you could expand that area to include other disabilities, too.

    I can read fairly well – I haven’t read a book in 5 or 6 years – I used to read the Bible, but I dont read it any more. I think it would be an intelligent thing (to read books) – you have to know what you want to do first – before you even start reading – or you can read a broad base of books to find out what you are interested in – what you have a talent for.

    The other thing that I was thinking to is about the availability of books. There are people who are in hospital situations who would find it very difficult to find books like you are talking about – technical books and college level books – because the choice just isnt there – they would offer novels or magazines instead in the institution most likely.

    I am currently in a partial hospitalization program for psychiatric illness – they have a fairly large library – but 99% of the books are basically novels, autobiographies general literature that really dont have any instructional nature to them. I have looked them over – I know most of the stories. There are only so many different story lines that you can have – it doesnt really interest me to read them.

    There are people (at my day program) who read instead of taking a cigarrete break between meetings in the program. But even they are reading the novels/general literature type things.

    I have been considering reading something myself. Whether it be a novel or not – I haven’t really thought about the idea of reading something instructional – but I have been thinking about filling some of my time with a book. Thats where I am with the reading. I have a friend who has about 1,000 books – so, all I would have to do is to ask him to let me borrow one. I read “War and Peace” last time – it was a big book and it took a long time to read it. I felt like I understood the book pretty well.

    I think (from time to time) about finding a job – I will be finding a job soon when I graduate from the program. But I am not the one who decides when I graduate. They want me to look into going to school after I finish the program – to help me to have better skills to find work. I have a few ideas of things that I feel I would be capable of doing as work. My goal for the type of job that I would like is something that has to do with mathematics – like engineering or teaching math to high school kids or something like that.

    The reason that finding a job is not a priority right now is becuase all of my effort is going into maintaining a healthy lifestyle, keeping my surroundings clean and organinzed and going to the day program right now. And that, right there, chimes in at about 9 to 10 hours a day of productivity. The only thing is that I dont get paid for it. I am starting to build my self-esteem a bit, and I am learning new social skills – I dont get money for what I am doing. I live off of my disability check.

    The “hive” wants me at the partial hospitalization day program right now. The first thing that you learn there is taht, if you dont show up, then they are going to send the cops to your house. The people that are in the program are people who are freshly out of psychiatric hospitals in the area. They are changing the way that they deal with discharging patients with mental illness now. Actually, by not having a choice – in that I have to show up or I risk being re-hospitalized – you are almost forced to get healthy or to flounder. Even the way they treat people who have drug and alchohol problems is changing, too. The day program does random piss tests – and if you fail it twice then you get shipped out to a more rigorous program – it sounds cruel – but I think that it is actually kind of good thing to force people (like me) to more disciplined about not using illegal drugs like marijuana, etc – which could cause relapse into pyschiatric illness.

    • adpal says:

      In your last paragraph you said that “it sounds cruel” in regards to the fact that the people who run your day program do random urine tests to check clients for illegal drugs. That seems like a kind of odd way to look at it. I would think that, if someone has been hospitalized for mental illness, then it would make sense that, as a part of their follow-up treatment, that they would be expected to abstain from illegal drugs. I am not sure of the actual numbers, but I think that psychiatric hospitalizations typically cost the “hive” a lot of money. So, doesn’t the hive have a vested interest in seeing to it that discharged patients take the necessary steps to avoid having to return to the hospital? Again, I am not sure of the actual numbers, but I think that there is a high correlation between using illegal drugs and repeat psychiatric hospitalizations …

  3. MVNJ says:

    I havent decided to set the time aside to read an instructional book. I think that reading is a choice it is not a responsibility – unless you are still in elementary schools, grammar school or high school – college students certainly have the responsibility to read books. /// What is your responsibility to the “hive?” /// It is to continue to be consistent with the lifestyle that I am developing at the day program. /// They don’t give out disability payments to people who are capable of working. Going to the program on a consistent basis consumes my whole responsibility to the hive. I am not causing problems. I abstain from drugs and alcohol. I am learning to be social. It is going to be a while that I am going to be there. Don’t get me wrong – I am not trying to say that I will never be able to “recover” from a mental illness – and get the skills that I need to get a P/T job or to study to improve my skills. Its just that I have to gradually move from where I am to where I should be.

    Two years ago, when I was first was introduced to PAL, the mental illness and the medicine that I was taking were still going on – and plus I was using drugs and alcohol on the side – in that regard (about the drugs and alcohol) that that was kind of a self-induced laziness. So in that sense yes, definitely, laziness was affecting me back in those days. It is hard for me to look back in my own life and point to specific instances and say “yes, laziness was the cause of the trouble” – because, at the time, there were so many other factors going on. I did admit that I was lazy – and I was sincere at the time – but it was only one factor in the “soup.”

    Now-a-days I do not feel like laziness is a factor in my life. I do not forsee that laziness will re-emerge in my life. Many times, in the past, the medicine itself was a hindering factor in my life. Now-a-days I am trying to get a balance in life – and not being an overachiever.

    Here is an example of my current laziness – I tend to procrastinate on cleaning my dishes and doing my laundry.

  4. perception vs reality says:

    Here is an exxample – suppose u r going to an interview tommorow for a job as a plumbers helper … Then for today u have free time. So does it make sense to go to the library to get a book about basic plumbing ideas so u can brush up on the terminology used by plumbers? To me the answer is obviously yes. One possible objection might b to say that it is better not to read the book bcz the prospective employer might get concerned that I m trying to take his job – in other words it might b better to get the plumbers helper job if I did not actually know anything about plumbing? My answer to that scenario is: yes, maybe that could happen but it is not likely. It is more likely that the plumber would b impressed by the fact that I m showing an interest in the field (so long as I don’t start acting like a know-it-all.)

    • Door Number 3 says:

      That was funny when u said that u might b in a better spot to get the plumbers helpers job if u didn’t know anything about plumbing! If that is true then we could use the same logic to never read anything of an instructional nature … Which coincidentally would exactly match the “goals” of the laziness motives – to do no mind-based work!

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