This Kuwaiti Doctor Will Get You to Read…Sort Of

At first, I was cheered by this Q&A in the Arab Times with Dr Sajed Al-Abdali. Dr. Al-Abdali, a medical doctor, is also a champion of books. He has written a how-to guide called Clever Reading (which teaches tricks such as speed reading) and has been running a successful book club for the last several years.

But then we reached this question:

Dr Sajed, before you proceed, I have a more fundamental question to ask. A book is just a tool to disseminate information. It is only a means to an end and not an end in itself. So is the Internet or for that matter movies. Then why do you insist that people have to seek knowledge only from the books and not the other tools, which are more effective in their function?

One would hope for the good doctor to fly into a miniature rage at this point, but apparently he also sees books as tools to “disseminate information.” (God forbid that we should enjoy them, live inside them, treasure them; that they should be our friends, our companions, our helpmeets in difficult times.)

And—no, I am not a Luddite; I too can watch films—but I do believe there are other reasons to encourage the process of reading vs. the process of “watching” or “interacting”:

Q: That’s precisely why I am asking if it would be a good idea to encourage children to play games and watch movies that give them knowledge instead of forcing books on them.
A: Yes. If there are enough such movies and games well and good.

Then the good doctor totally lost me here. Or perhaps “lost” is the wrong word. This is where he abandoned my sense of human reality and took flight into his own personal land:

From my experience, I feel that people prefer to read novels, because they are interesting to read and are easy to discuss. In the earlier times, people felt that novels are just fiction and not worthwhile reading. But that has changed. These days, novels come with a lot of additional information. Woven into the fictional narrative are well-researched information on history and other things relevant to the main plot. Take “Da Vinci Code” for example, it’s loaded with historical information, which you wouldn’t dream of reading as a special subject. All the books of Dan Brown are like that. This writer conducts in-depth research like writing a thesis before he writes any of his books. Novels are not merely stories any more.

Um, if you have not yet heard of the many historical inaccuracies in the Da Vinci Code, you may begin your travels here.

Meanwhile, thank goodness for Baheyya, whose post yesterday on Kamel Kilani could make a stump want to read.



Categories: reading

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4 replies

  1. It physically pains me to hear opinions like the ones put forward here by Dr. Sajed (only too common in the Arab world, unfortunately). Ouch. And what about the legions of teenage Arab girls who are nearly as obsessed with Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books as their western counterparts? Do they read them for their “well-researched information” on vampires?

  2. Fortunately, those girls have the last laugh, as apparently even reading a book about Britney Spears (or Britney as a vampire) will make you smarter:

    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/02/summer-must-read-for-kids-any-book/

  3. what? doesn’t everybody read “war and peace” for info on napoleonic wars???
    just for the fun of it, here’s what the good people of CERN had to say about “angels and demons”: http://public.web.cern.ch/public/en/Spotlight/SpotlightAandD-en.html

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