You’ve probably heard the saying that you are what you eat. If you spend far too much time consuming junk food, there’s a good chance that you’ll feel pretty junky. By the same accord, I believe that you are what you read. Sure, this may come from my background as a freelance writer, but I feel that the written word is very important and it makes up a lot of who we are.

As with fine dining and exotic cuisine, personal preferences in regard to reading material will vary widely across the populace. Your choice of reading material speaks volumes not only for your areas of interest, but also for your personality and outlook on life as well. What do I mean? Let’s look at a few examples.

Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and Twilight

Whether it be pure science fiction or something that borders more on science fact, I think that we’d all agree that these kinds of novels are meant to be escapist fiction. Growing up, I read a lot of books by the late Michael Crichton, for example, because his novels depict worlds that are just outside of reality. They present exciting and intriguing areas to explore.

Whether you are drawn to Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or Frank Miller’s graphic novels, there’s a good chance that you are reading this material, in part, to escape from reality. People who are enthralled with these kinds of works typically lead lives that are a little less exciting and so they get their thrills vicariously through the fictional characters. There’s nothing wrong with this, because whether you work at home, study at school, or grind it out at a 9-to-5, your life is likely filled with many monotonous details. We all need an opportunity to experience adventure (without taking any physical risks).

Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and Bloomberg News

Do you have money on your mind? Given the financial situation of world markets these days, it’s not surprising that a growing number of people have developed an interest in economics and the happenings on Wall Street. Some people read publications like those listed above partly out of greed, but many more are not interested in money for money’s sake.

Instead, they are much more interested in the dynamics of how money works and the volatility of the markets. Dealing with money is a game, complete with well-timed gambles, odds-stacking, and the thrill of achievement (winning). These people want life to be neatly compartmentalized, completely described by facts, figures, and graphs.

Even people who seem incredibly focused on cash have to realize that money is a means, not an end. They also run the risk of getting so enraptured by economic trends as to neglect the things that are much more valuable in life: family, friends, health, and happiness.

Blog Me This, Blog Me That

If you’re like me, one of the first things you do in the morning is launch Google Reader to catch up on countless RSS feeds from around the blogosphere. I hope that the Beyond the Rhetoric RSS feed is part of your daily reading.

If you subscribe to a lot of different blogs, including those focused on cars and technology (for example), then there’s a good chance that you can’t possibly read every article in its entirety. You may glance at the headline and skim the first sentence, determining quickly whether the rest of the post is worth reading. All you need is the gist. This is similar to how most people approach reading the newspaper.

Easy subscription to RSS feeds, along with several other Internet creations, has led to a shortened attention span. The more you adhere to these kinds of web-derived practices, the shorter your attention span may become. A friend of mine is notorious for having the attention span of a goldfish. Hey look! A castle…

What Do You Read?

Believe it or not, you are what you read. If you only involve yourself with extremist media, there’s a good chance that you’ll soon assimilate to their particular viewpoints. You don’t want to live in a dumbocracy, so it’s important you balance your reading with a number of different topics, genres, and perspectives.

What do you read? Do you read for pleasure anymore or do you only read material directly related to work and school?