Why should we read?

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JESSIE CARPIO

Every time I am asked to give an advice to new hires in our Firm, I never failed to mention to them: “Read books!” Also, I usually make a random survey of new hires who are habitual readers by a show of hands, and sadly, those who read are less than 10 percent of the batch. In this age of YouTube, mobile gaming, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, books, indeed, have a formidable competition. The youth find it easier to surf than to read. Nowadays, reading is likely seen by the youth as a chore and, to some, even geeky; not realizing the many benefits of reading. How do we, indeed, entice the young to read and see the benefits of reading?

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An article in the Harvard Business Review entitled “For Those Who Want to Lead, Read,” asserted that “reading can make more effective leaders.” “Reading increases verbal intelligence, making a leader a more adept and articulate communicator,” wrote John Coleman in that August 15, 2012 article. It’s not just reading business books and magazines, though. The article said, “reading novels can improve empathy and understanding of social cues, allowing a leader to better work with and understand others. And any business person understands that heightened emotional intelligence will improve his or her leadership and management ability.”

If one goes through the list of benefits of reading, one would find that readers attest to an enhanced thinking process and improved written and oral communication skills. Also, readers get a glimpse of human nature and motivations that bequeath them empathy and a better understanding of other people. Reading also provides us a respite from the stress while it keeps the mind active.

One of the things my mother is proud of when it comes to her children is that we are voracious readers. I read everything. I grew up reading Filipino graphic comics. My mother bought these “komiks” like Hiwaga, Tagalog Klasiks, and Pilipino Komiks from Agoo, La Union, which we then rent out to customers of our sari-sari store in Sto. Tomas, La Union. I remember my siblings and I usually fought over who got to read them first. There were times I hid the magazines from customers when I was not done reading them yet. My reading habit continued to Readers’ Digest and then to the best-selling novels of Forsyth, Clancy, Patterson and Grisham on to memoirs and biographies. Today, I read any book that catches my fancy. To me, reading widens my vocabulary and polishes my speaking and writing skills. Sometimes, I am surprised that the apt words just pop in my head when I am writing a difficult email or composing an article. Moreover, when I am talking to clients and colleagues, I realize some things just come out based on knowledge stored at the back of my mind.

I am not sure how my love of reading came about. I just know I can be transported elsewhere from where I am reading. Fortunately, my wife loves reading, too. Thus, we practically forced our children to read by limiting their television watching and computer surfing and playing. We have a policy where we set no limit when it comes to buying books. I am not sure whether this is the right way to instill the love of reading to kids nowadays.

There are several highly successful people who credit reading as one of the main reasons for their success.
Warren Buffett reads at least 500 pages a day while Bill Gates reads practically one book a week. Phil Knight of Nike is also said to have an extensive library. Practically all the tech companies’ innovators, founders and business titans are voracious readers. The Founders of P&A Grant Thornton—Ben Punongbayan and Joe Araullo—are also avid readers.

With the hosts of benefits and known personalities who are role models, how come reading is still believed to be in decline? What should we do to encourage our next generation of leaders, especially the Generation X and millennials, to read? With the internet becoming more ubiquitous, how can physical reading be considered a fun and worthwhile activity for the young?

There are many suggestions to get the youth to read—organize a book club, join a reading group, relax in a “no internet” place, etc. Most importantly, those of us who still do read should read to our children to pass on the love of reading. Also, in this age where we are drowning in too much information, a great book is still a worthwhile refuge. Let us always remember what Mark Twain said: The man who does not read good books has no advantage over a man who cannot read.

Jessie Carpio is a partner and head of BPS/Outsourcing. He is also the president of P&A Grant Thornton Outsourcing Inc., an entity wholly owned by P&A Grant Thornton. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading Audit, Tax, Advisory, and Outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 21 Partners and over 800 staff members. We’d like to hear from you! Tweet us: @PAGrantThornton, like us on Facebook: P&A Grant Thornton, and email your comments to jessie.carpio@ph.gt.com or pagrantthornton.marketscomm@ph.gt.com. For more information, visit our Website: www.grantthornton.com.ph.

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