Does Reading Really Make You Smarter? Maybe Not

Tinashe reading a book

A month ago or so, I read an interesting book about healthy eating. 

I learned a lot of valuable information.

One of the key takeaways I got from the book was that eating too much fatty food in your diet can raise “bad” LDL cholesterol in your blood, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

BP Machine
Cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

After reading the book back to back I felt very smart (having the ability to easily learn or understand things) because of all my recently acquired information about food and health.

Later the following day, I was coming from a mentally straining flight training exercise and I needed some quick snack to ‘boost’ my mood. On my way from the airport, I stopped by a carenderia (small food stall by the roadside) and ordered liempo – my favorite snack.  Liempo also known as ‘Inihaw na Liempo’ is grilled pork belly. With alternating layers of meat and fat, it is the fattiest and most flavorful type of pork cut. It is also one of the most popular local meats.

It is also very affordable – a couple of handfuls cost me just 240 pesos which is approximately $4.30.

After I ate the liempo, I didn’t feel awesome physically, but mentally I was very happy. Physically, I felt kind of fat. It was like I had eaten a whole pig by myself or something.

I know that liempo is bad for me because the nutrition book said so, but I deliberately chose to shove it down my mouth because I felt like so. Despite being well-informed about the dangers of fatty foods, my actions were the same as someone who has never read a nutrition book in their life.

Was I smart?


I just heard your silent answer and I like it!

The point is that reading will not make you automatically smarter. It is the knowledge you apply that makes you smarter.

All the reading you do will only have entertainment value if it does not change your behavior and the way you think. Understanding something brings this change in the way you think and behave, whereas merely reading something or knowing something makes no difference to your life. Knowledge is power only when it is applied. Only then can it change your life. If you truly want to be a smart person, be the kind of person who applies the information they would have read.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers (or readers) only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was

James 1 verse 22 – 24

PS: One day, I’ll probably have to cut back on the liempo. But for now, I honestly do not have a plan to stop eating it. Sorry Doc but liempo is that good!

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