Peggy Noonan had some good advice to recent graduates last week about the importance of reading books. For Noonan, it is, in the end, a worthy intellectual pursuit that pays tremendous dividends in making you a better education, more human person.
For those of you looking for what may be a more practical explanation of why we read books, see U.S. Marine General James Mattis’s explanation of why it is good to read deeply and broadly. General Mattis is currently the Secretary of Defense and has been known to be quite a reader. He has offered lists on leadership and other topics that include books on a wide range of topics and with diverse styles. From Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations to a modern biography of Alexander Hamilton, Mattis sees these books as preparation for situations that he has not encountered: “Thanks to my reading, I have never been caught flat-footed by any situation, never at a loss for how any problem has been addressed (successfully or unsuccessfully) before. It doesn’t give me all the answers, but it lights what is often a dark path ahead.”
Let books light your path. Let them guide you not only into additional knowledge for its own sake and enjoyment, but also to practical applications of the knowledge you gain to help you succeed.