When the plumber is a reader

Methodology develops with time, and the appropriate approach is eventually established

Turki Aldakhil
Turki Aldakhil
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Years ago, I went with my family on a vacation to London and rented a small apartment there. A water pipe broke, so the landlord said he would send a plumber to fix it. It turned out that the repair would require a few days’ work.

The plumber was a young British man who wore dirty clothes. Every day he would take a half-hour lunchbreak, but he never had lunch alone - his companion was a book.

Argentine author Jorge Borges (Aug. 24, 1899 - June 14, 1986) was passionate about reading. He missed the voice of his mother, who became his personal secretary and read to him as his eyesight deteriorated. If you want to love reading and strengthen your relation with books, read the works of Borges, who said: “I’ve always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library.”

Borges’s relation with reading was documented by famous Argentine historian Alberto Manguel in a book entitled With Borges. Manguel met Borges, who had become his mentor, when he was 16 years old near a bookstore. Borges was happy with Manguel’s visits as he read him books. By that point he had become completely blind, so he listened to Manguel as he read to him. His imagination took him to different worlds.

He was chaotic in choosing the topics he wanted to learn about. They varied between religion, critiques and myths. He was fond of One Thousand and One Nights. The influence of Arabic myths was strongly present in his book The Aleph and Other Stories.

Borges’s lack of methodology in reading was not a flaw. What matters is the connection to the book and learning from it, and from encyclopaedias, references, stories, novels and poems. What matters is to gain information. Methodology develops with time, and the appropriate approach is eventually established.

It is impossible to imagine a successful society without having reading as part of its daily activity

Turki Al-Dakhil


Some books are to be read while on the plane or during picnics, while others require a clear mind and concentration. When reading is important, and when everyone reads regardless of their job, the result will be improving society’s level of education and intellect.

This will affect its development and economy. It is impossible to imagine a successful society without having reading as part of its daily activity. Reading is a hobby that is not difficult.

Reading around 30 pages a day will be of value with time. Then one can read more pages every month. The incident I mentioned at the start of my article shows how reading can become a daily habit to which a person can dedicate time. Reading helps one relax, and provides pleasure when one discovers a new idea or reads about a historical event or a wonderful poem. Reading allows one to be in a constant state of discovery.

When you dedicate time to reading, away from your smart phone, you introduce balance to your life. If you spend half an hour a day reading a book, you will realize years later that you gave your mind the appropriate nutrition. The minds of those who do not read will rust.

This article was first published in Al Bayan on May 25, 2016.
Turki Al-Dakhil is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. He began his career as a print journalist, covering politics and culture for the Saudi newspapers Okaz, Al-Riyadh and Al-Watan. He then moved to pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat and pan-Arab news magazine Al-Majalla. Turki later became a radio correspondent for the French-owned pan-Arab Radio Monte Carlo and MBC FM. He proceeded to Elaph, an online news magazine and Alarabiya.net, the news channel’s online platform. Over a ten-year period, Dakhil’s weekly Al Arabiya talk show “Edaat” (Spotlights) provided an opportunity for proponents of Arab and Islamic social reform to make their case to a mass audience. Turki also owns Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre and Madarek Publishing House in Dubai. He has received several awards and honors, including the America Abroad Media annual award for his role in supporting civil society, human rights and advancing women’s roles in Gulf societies. He tweets @TurkiAldakhil.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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