Guest Post | Michael Kaiser | The Importance of Reading Cultural Publications

I’m excited to announce the return of my guest posts! It’s been over a year since the last one, so here’s a quick refresher. Guest posts on my blog can be about any topic and is essentially the writer’s soapbox. In the past I’ve included posts from friends and family, graduation speakers, comic book authors, and even company leaders. You can check out my past Guest Posts here.

I’d like to introduce my good friend Michael Kaiser for this summer’s first guest post. I’ve known Michael for close to 5 years now, and we’re currently neighbors in the city. Apart from being an all-around awesome dude, Michael is also one of my go-to people to talk to about interesting books, ideas, and projects. Be sure to check out his awesome blog Pen, Paper, & Coffee (KMHQ) for more quality posts!

Pen, Paper, & Coffee at kmhq.com

Pen, Paper, & Coffee at kmhq.com

If you’re reading this and even remotely thinking about submitting a guest post on your own, don’t hesitate to contact me or fill out the Guest Post questionnaire! I’d love to feature more of these posts in my blog!


The Importance of Reading Cultural Publications

Good morning (news), everyone! This is Michael Kaiser. I’m a fellow writer with Glen – my blog KMHQ is over here – and today I’m honored to guest post for Random Tidbits of Thought. As apparent from Glen’s posts over the last two years and mine over the last year, life after college is incredibly different than life before, so I’m going to focus on one of the salient aspects I think is necessary in a post-college life – the importance of reading cultural publications.

A month before graduation, one of my close friends who had graduated 10 years prior told me that after he got married, a very important lesson for him was learning how to cleave himself from work. It was an odd concept (and probably even odder phrasing). Namely, work had become one of the most important aspects of his life, and it had happened naturally. However, he thought that this had begun to structurally oppose a well-rounded and diversified life (in finding happiness). He was now intentionally leaving the office earlier and stopping himself from thinking about work at home to change this. Although I’ve only been working for a tenth of the time he has, I think his explicit warning helped expedite my understanding, and internal restructuring in my company brought it back to my mind in the last few months.

Because of this, I’ve recently spent quite a lot of time thinking about what work-life balance looks like. Although it started as just a hobby, one aspect of my life has become very important – reading. And not just any type of reading; in the last year I have focused on cultural publications. This type of reading, I believe, is necessary for a post-college life.

Library-of-Congress-Reading-Room-Open-House-14

I define a cultural publication fairly loosely: something opinionated (not objective) with argument and analysis. An example would be my favorite publication The New Yorker. You may also be familiar with the NY Times’ Op-Ed section. Authors who write for these publications cover a considerable range of topics, such as analyzing novels, politics, plays, food, science, and more. However, I am not talking about the news. I’m of the opinion that reading the news is akin to reddit: it can be mindless, and after a few hours you’ll forget what you read. News rarely has an opinion, and therefore, you don’t actively question it. It is easy to consume. A cultural article argues for one side of an event or idea, and you must question it to read it. Reading about culture is active, while reading the news is passive.

The other equally important aspect of reading cultural articles is that your own opinion can expand through them. A fairly sound axiom of the human mind is that most, if not all, opinions are taken and formed from other opinions. I know, that sounds nebulous. Here’s an analogy: an artist who has never seen a can of Campbell’s soup would probably never think to paint one, without a considerable amount of time and creativity, that is. By reading others’ opinions, you are adding to the building blocks of your own mind. And it’s not an easy process: it forces you to think about what opinions you have, if you agree with what you’ve just read, and what that means if your opinion has changed.

I’ll admit, this advice in and of itself is not a life-changing practice. Breaking up your work day to spend 10 minutes reading why Greece shouldn’t default on its debt or why academic research is leading to the death of the university is a minute aspect in post-college life. However, forcing your mind to think and question something outside of work can lead, at least for me, to actively pursuing other interests that you may have not considered when solely thinking about work. For example, from a few articles criticizing newly published books, I began to read novels from authors I hadn’t known about prior. And from there, I began writing to express my own opinions on novels I had read.

To return to the beginning of this post: I believe developing oneself outside of work can lead to more diversity and happiness in one’s life. For me, this began with reading cultural publications, jumpstarting my mind and adding opinions I hadn’t before considered. It may be that this practice doesn’t work for everyone. Even still, adding interests and hobbies outside of work, especially in a post-college career, is very beneficial to pursuing a diversified life and has been an important lesson that I’ve learned in the last year.

In a bit of a post-script, I’d love to include a few recommendations. Like I mentioned, The New Yorker is my favorite because of the intelligence of its writers. The Chronicle of Higher Education has a lot of great articles, specifically about the university and education. Nautil.us focuses on scientific cultural commentary. The Paris Review focuses on poetry & fiction and is also a personal favorite. The Guardian actually has a lot of good book reviews, as well. Finally, Arts and Letters Daily compiles articles from the internet and is a good hub to find a variety of interesting publications. This list is hardly exhaustive, but it’s a good start for those interested in reading more articles.


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