Don’t be Enslaved by Books

Donny Setiawan
4 min readOct 26, 2023
Photo by Jason Wong on Unsplash


In the bright day and long. We intend to visit the library.

We usually visit public places such as libraries, or if we get bored, go to museums.

My friend is a critical person. He asked anything. At that time, we had a disagreement because he was too concerned about trivial matters, and I was a person who didn’t want to fuss over something.

He blamed me for being ‘ungive a f**k’. Meanwhile, I was irritated by his ‘insignificant questionable behavior’.

When we visited the library, he was as attentive, as ever.

We intend to borrow several books to read at our respective homes.

He is with the books of his choice. I am with the books of my choice, even though sometimes he protests that I should borrow books that he thinks are necessary for me. However, I reasoned that at this time there was no real need for it.

He was then disappointed and took issue with the matter again. He commented that he wanted me to read books that ‘would change me’.

For a while, still in the library, while filling in the free time, we planned to sit around and relax a bit before the afternoon. Because during the day we think it’s still hot to go out (because Indonesia has a tropical climate).

We each read our own books. I am engrossed in my book, he is engrossed in his book.

Until some time later, he closed his book, and said that he wanted to sleep for a few minutes before we went home.

I answered ‘okay’, even though my eyes were still paying attention to the sentences in the book I was holding. The problem is I didn’t pay much attention to him.

After only a few minutes, he woke up and asked what time it was. I answered (still paying attention to the book) at exactly three o’clock.

Then we agreed to go home. However, before we left our seats, he asked: “Are you finished?”

Then, I answered, with the attitude that I really don’t care about things that ‘don’t need to be bothered about’: “I’m done.”

I was surprised by his reaction when I said that, “So fast. Isn’t that a thick book?”

Because I knew his attitude, then I gave him the understanding that what I meant was that I had finished reading it, which didn’t mean ‘finished’ reading (the entire) book but rather the activity of reading it.

Then, as usual, he didn’t accept it. And, since I’m one of those people who doesn’t take issue with anything, I let him win the argument. With the final score: I was wrong. He’s right.

Even then, our disagreement was not over. Even when I borrowed the book he still made comments.

“There are so many books to borrow. Will they ever be finished?” he said.


To people who have experienced or often experience the recent incident, regarding opinions:

  • “Reading the book must be finished”, or
  • “Reading a book requires knowing all its contents,” or
  • “Reading the book you should know everything.”

Tiring, isn’t it?

Yes, I know. That’s annoying to me. Maybe that feeling is what prompted me to write this.

We have to get rid of old-fashioned thinking about it. Like it or not.

There is a saying that goes more or less like this, but I completely changed the content but didn’t change the meaning:


  • Read if you think this activity pleases you.
  • Read it while you have time.
  • Read until the books in the house fall apart.

Do things that make you happy, not other people happy.

Recently I agreed with the comments:

NO ONE LIKES TO SEE OTHERS SUCCESSFUL. (assume the reading activity is a success)

If living in this day and age is still confusing with the stigma, if someone who is smart read a book or reads books means they are smart, how long will our beloved country (Indonesia) be left behind in its literacy aspect, if only ‘reading’ is still an issue.

In reality, our enemy is having to deal with the stigma of society which views that ‘reading books is an expensive act’.

Expensive in time, expensive in energy, expensive in cost. Imagine, how many hours do we spend to finish one book? how much work is in the brain to focus on reading sentence by sentence? how much do we spend for 1 book?

Because it’s ‘expensive’, these people — I’ll just call them that — just want to act practically by judging ‘readers’ by asking about this and that, without wanting to think with their own minds.

Reading takes effort. It takes struggle.


Therefore, be grateful for people who still want to read, not because they want to be looked at by people, but because they want it for their hearts.

Be grateful for people who still want to read, even though people out there criticize you for not reading a book until the end.

Be grateful for people who still want to read, even though people out there look down on you because you still forget the contents of the book.

Be grateful for people who still want to read, even if people out there are disappointed in you because you still don’t know anything.

Our job as readers is not to try to silence their mouths, or make them lose and we win. But, trying to think about each other, why do we read?***