Reading Books You Don’t Agree With

This may seem to go against the thought that we’re limited in how much time we have to read, and thus we want to read books we know we’ll enjoy as much as possible. But every rule has an exception.

A recent report released detailed the ways in which Americans interact with people they agree with and live in areas of the country in wguvh their views dominate. We already know Americans consume news from more partisan news sources than ever before.

I think it would be easy to treat books in much the same manner. Read what we agree with and stick to what we like. Easy, right? Doing this just reinforces our own worldview and gives zero insight into any other viewpoint. We criticize politicians all the time for surrounding themselves with people who agree with them on everything, but then it’s exactly what we do in our day-to-day lives.

I challenge you to buck the trend. Pick up a book you know goes against your personal viewpoint.

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15 thoughts on “Reading Books You Don’t Agree With

  1. I’ve read books I don’t necessarily agree with several times.
    I read Young Adult for a very long time, then I switched to dystopian novels, then murder/mysteries.
    I know you’re talking more about something which will challenge your views on a given topic (abortion, religion, just to name two).
    I do tend to stick with fiction and fantasy more than anything else, but there are several books in my library which are far from those :).
    My two favorites are True Life stories: Karen by Marie Killillea (sp) which is the story of her daughter who was born with Cerebral Palsy and was published in 1967.
    I Heard the Owl Call My Name by Margaret Craven is the story of a young vicar who is diagnosed with an incurable illness so is sent to a remote parish in British Columbia, Canada to minister. The name of the illness is not given in the book, but the movie named it as leprosy (I think). It was first published in Canada in 1967 then in the US in 1973.
    These are the two books which are my fall back: when I get in a reading slump where I just can’t seem to settle on what to read they are the ones I go to every time.

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    • Those two books don’t seem to have something to be against. I didn’t look them up but they seem fairly like other memoir-type books in which the author chronicles some struggle. I’m definitely speaking more about opinions and viewpoints. Something like a staunch liberal regularly reading works written by ultra-conservatives. If for no reason other than to grasp the basis of their opinions and policies. I suppose a genre could also qualify, but saying something like “I don’t read erotica” isn’t quite the same as saying you’re against the death penalty.

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      • I know. I just sometimes get to rambling and lose the original thread of thought, lol, sorry. You might want to read the link I posted a little later though since it does deal with what you were talking about. It might have ended up in the spam filter since it had a link in it.

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  2. Funny coincidence: I just came across this article on my FB feed. Off to read it now.

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  3. I agree with this~ if it has pages, I will read it. Is the point of reading not to be someone other than yourself?

    I read 1984 years ago, and I didn’t care for it. But I could see what the author’s intent was and it helped me to better understand why it and its message were important.

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    • I don’t know that I’d read anything. But I’ve shown myself over the last couple of years that I’m really open to read a wide range of things discussing a wide range of topics. Sometimes I’ll read something beloved by millions of people and see instantly why it’s so. Other times I’ll read something that doesn’t seem much better than grinding my teeth.

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  4. In essence I agree, but not forgetting that there’s an emotional cost, a lot of potential wear and tear in doing that. It’s not to be done lightly – if you’re going to do it, choose the book carefully and make sure it’s worth the non-monetary price you pay.

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    • I suppose I see your point. But on the other hand I don’t. Reading something you disagree with doesn’t have to be emotionally draining. For instance, I’m atheist. If I read something on religion I don’t see how that would be taxing for me. Probably annoying, but I wouldn’t feel like I’m paying any price. I could probably name dozens of topics that I’d treat much the same.

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      • I suppose it depends vastly on the book and the reader. E.g. if I read a right-wing tract from someone setting out to provoke, e.g. Ann Coulter, then it’s probably going to do what it was intended to do and infuriate, distress and derail me. Maybe we should all be invulnerable to such ploys and attacks, but not everyone has the same detachment and tough-mindedness. If you do then I applaud you, but I can’t always emulate you.

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  5. I’ve done this a few times before, but one I wanted to read, but necessarily didn’t was Mein Kampf. I wanted to understand Hitler’s mind and I only think it made me think him more crazier.

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  6. This is such a nice post and love the message :)!

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