Friday, November 11, 2016

Thomas S. Monson on the importance and benefits of reading

President Thomas S. Monson (born August 21 1927) was sustained to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1963.  He served as a counselor in the First Presidency with Presidents Benson, Hunter, and Hinckley until becoming Church president in 2008.
"Reading 'out of the best books' stretches our mental muscles and expands our horizons. It takes us out of our mundane worlds and lets us travel as far as our imaginations and the picture painting words of the authors can carry us. Reading keeps us vibrant, it keeps us alive and makes us far more interesting to our marriage mates and our families. It is also a form of insurance against mental aging. We are only as old as we think we are. Some people say that one way to keep alive is to keep interested in many things, and the way to keep interested is to read widely and wisely....
"Reading is one of the true pleasures of life. In our age of mass culture, when so much that we encounter is abridged, adapted, adulterated, shredded and boiled down, and commercialism's loudspeakers are incessantly braying, it is mind-easing and mind-inspiring to sit down privately with a good book. It is ennobling when that book contains the revealed word of God."
- Thomas S. Monson, "Constant Truths in Changing Times," BYU Commencement, May 26, 1967; see TTSM pp. 33-34

It's always interesting to hear when one of the leading Church authorities quotes from an unusual contemporary source, or even a classic literary work, or makes a historical analogy. That suggests what kinds of materials they might be reading in their personal time. Occasionally they will talk directly about the importance of being broadly informed and educated. This excerpt from President Monson is a great example of that encouragement.

After listing what he perceives as many of the long-term benefits of being widely-read, President Monson talks about the pure enjoyment of the activity ("one of the true pleasures of life"), and how it is "mind-easing and mind-inspiring to sit down privately with a good book" in a world that is noisy and complicated. What a great reminder!

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