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Thread: Do you need to read books to be clever?

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    Elite Member Honey's Avatar
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    Default Do you need to read books to be clever?



    By Denise Winterman
    BBC News Magazine


    It's the National Year of Reading. Just as well, as one in four adults say they haven't read a book in at least a year. With so many other ways to get information these days, do we still need books?
    When did you last pick up a book to hunt out a nugget of information instead of Googling it? Or read a novel instead of powering up the PlayStation or the telly?
    Some time ago, quite possibly, especially if you're a man and aged 16 to 24 - half haven't read a single book in the past 12 months, making this group the least likely to read books, according to government statistics.
    The rest of us aren't much better. And some, including Victoria Beckham, claim never to have read a book at all.
    WHERE AND WHEN WE READ

    In bed
    On holiday
    On way to work
    In the bath
    On the toilet

    Source: Bedtime Reading Week
    Yet books are hyped as life changing and a way out of crime, poverty and deprivation by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who launched the National Year of Reading on Wednesday. Quite simply, they have the potential to open up new worlds for the reader.
    So why don't more of us make use of these repositories of knowledge and, with so much information to be gleaned online and from the TV, do we need to read books any more?
    "They're vital to learning. Half the population don't go to football matches but that doesn't make football any less important," says Professor John Sutherland, who has chaired the Booker prize judging panel.
    Books are essential because at their very heart is the storage of information, he says.
    "The best storage system we have is the book. Few artefacts have lasted as enduringly - and few will. If you dropped Chaucer into the middle of Oxford Street today he wouldn't have a clue what was going on, but if you took him to a bookshop he'd know exactly what they were, even be able to find his own work."
    Sum of knowledge
    And every book has a part to play in our accumulation of knowledge, right down to autobiographies by the likes of Peter Andre and Kerry Katona.
    Writes books, doesn't read them

    "Books are an eco-system, the bad ones make the good ones possible," says Prof Sutherland. "Victoria Beckham's autobiography pays for likes of Andrew Motion."
    But while books have great cultural value, others argue that you don't have to read them to be intelligent and knowledgeable.
    "I didn't read a book last year and don't know when I will read one," says Jamie Sharp, 37. "That doesn't make me illiterate or stupid, I just get my information in other ways.
    "I read a paper everyday and use the internet. That probably makes me better informed than a lot of book readers out there. They may read a book but it's just as likely to be David Beckham's autobiography as it is Shakespeare."
    And reading involves intellectual snobbery, he says. "It always has to be about certain types of books. Often people just read them because they think they should, not because they want to. Sometimes they pretend to have read them to look intelligent."
    He has a point - 40% of people admit to lying about having read certain books, according to a study published last year by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. And half read the classics just because we think it makes us look more intelligent.
    Musty tomes
    Basically, not everyone is a natural reader. Books have also lost their "chic", according to some.
    Some books do booming business

    "If you try and sell your house, estate agents will tell you to get rid of the books, they are viewed as tired and middle aged," says Prof Sutherland.
    Despite this, book sales in the UK are huge and on the rise. Last year we bought an estimated 338 million books, at a cost of 2,478m. This was 13% higher by both volume and value than five years ago, according to the Book Marketing Limited's latest Books and the Consumer survey.
    It appears that while books might be disappearing from our homes, they are still a treasured part of our culture.
    "Britain produces more titles per person than any other country in the world," says Prof Sutherland. "That's the real measure of how important they are to us."
    Being able to read has never been so important


    Honor Wilson-Fletcher

    Books are important, but it's reading itself is an essential skill, says Honor Wilson-Fletcher, project director for the National Year of Reading.
    "It's not for nothing that books have been burned over the centuries," she says. "They are repositories of ideas and ideas empower people and broaden their horizons. "But because the cultural landscape is changing so much we need to recognise every variety of reading and acknowledge being able to read has never been so important. "No medium is less important than any other, be it a classic novel, Scott's last message from the North Pole, one of Morrissey's lyrics or graffiti on a wall - they can all educate and change lives. This is not a year of worthiness, it's a year of reading."




    BBC NEWS | Magazine | Do you need to read books to be clever?

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    La vie en rose DitaPage*'s Avatar
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    I was an avid reader from a young age and i believe it increased my vocabulary, and I was a top speller at school. People can say what they like; you benefit from books!
    Last edited by DitaPage*; January 13th, 2008 at 05:04 AM.

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    ^^ I am also an avid reader. However my cousin who became a vet via Sydney University has admitted the only reading he has ever done is text books for school and his degree.

    When he sat the NSW Higher School Certificate he was in the top 1/2 per cent. Me only top 30%.

    I also have a solicitor friend that has only ever read law books for her degree and as research for her job.

    Both of them would qualify as smarter than me the voracious reader.

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    Elite Member Mariesoleil's Avatar
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    Books don't make you smarter but they do give you more knowledge. Like Raspberry gashes said it also increases your vocabulary, I read alot and also was a top speller in school.

    As for books being viewed as "tired and middle aged" that's a load of bullshit. I have 4 bookcases that are full from top to bottom and when people come over they say: "Wow, it's nice to see that, it's rare to see so many books in a house." My bf said that having books in the house (he doesn't read) gives it charm.
    "Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers."

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    I'm an avid reader too and I generally prefer non-fiction so I get to learn a lot of (to me) interesting facts and information about people, history, politics, culture, the arts, geography, current affairs, you name it. Not sure it makes me more intelligent, but it certainly makes me better informed and educated which is probably the same thing?
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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    I would be lost without my books. My whole family reads & shares books.
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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    I think reading books gives you a borader knowledge and increases your ability to see different points of view. And one can't quantify 'smarts'. A person may be a brilliant lawyer or whatever but dumb as a post in many other areas. Reading in general is a good thing and eveyone should do it.
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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Do you need to read books to be clever?

    No, but you do need to read books to be educated
    All of God's children are not beautiful. Most of God's children are, in fact, barely presentable.

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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    they won't make you smarter in terms of natural intelligence. but reading is mental gymnastics so they help keep your mind sharp.
    but i firmly believe you need to read books (ideally not crap ones and in a diverse range of topics) to educate/cultivate yourself and not be a total philistine.
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

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    Super Moderator Tati's Avatar
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    ^ 'Xactly.
    If you reveal your secrets to the wind you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.

    - Kahlil Gibran

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    Elite Member Just Kill Me's Avatar
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    It helps.

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    Elite Member Dixie Normos's Avatar
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    I think it depends on the type of books and person reading them.

    You could read sci-fi and get nothing out of the story, save a smile when the hero saves the day. OR you could memorize the hero's success strategies and apply them to everyday situations.

    Either way, reading often WILL improve vocabulary and spelling. Whether you want to or not, your brain will remember proper spelling, words will "look wrong" when mispelled.
    "In the face of the blinding sun, I wake only to find
    that Heaven is a stranger place than than one I've left behind." - SM

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    I don't know about that Dixie, I read a hell of a lot and I have the worse grammar and spelling around.
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    Listen here, I used to be an avid reader, especially growing up. Made me have great spelling, grammar and better command of the language (English was not my first language.)

    Ever since I've been out of college, however, and haven't HAD to read as much, I can feel myself getting dumber. The brain synapses just aren't firing as quickly, I find myself making spelling mistakes when I write and I have a lot more trouble putting ideas into sentences. It used to come a lot easier than that and I certainly notice the difference. I'm only 30, it can't be my age.

    Not using my critical thinking skills so much, the lack of intellectual stimulation and my increased instant gratification via the internet has really changed things. Reading definitely helps. Doing crosswords helps a lot too. If you don't use it you really do lose it.

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    Elite Member Honey's Avatar
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    ^ Haha! I was once very intelligent too as far as language went. I studied English upto the age of 18 and was going to study it at university but picked another subject.

    I think my brain cells have all been killed now.

    ETA- People who say they have never read a book, How can this be???

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