WHEN I picked up ‘The Plague’, a novel by Albert Camus, a couple of months ago, little did I know that it was, in a way, resonating reality. Shortly after I had finished reading, the world, unable to deal with a virus attack, plunged into an abyss of uncertainty.
The master storyteller was so apt in his depiction of the mathematical modelling of a tragedy, the separation for the common good, one can’t fail to ask how he could envision the political, economic and religious context of an epidemic as fierce as the current Covid-19 crisis, in a secluded French Algerian city of Oran way back in 1947, the year of India’s Independence
There couldn’t have been a better example of ratifying the fact that books mirror the human society. No hobby or habit, for that matter, has ever been more productive than reading. Believe it or not, sooner or later, we all become what we read.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ
Goes without saying, books will help you improve vocabulary, and strengthen your grip on the language. That said, reading books, fiction or non-fiction, would increase your knowledge and depth of understanding of a particular subject.
With the onslaught of Internet and coal media, our attention span has significantly reduced as almost all information is available in a click or two. That, however, has its cons, too. With decreased attention span, we often end up being cranky and anxious. Reading, however, helps us stay calm and helps us improve our concentration skills.
Add to that, researchers will also tell you that reading improves memory and slows cognitive decline with age. It is more like a workout for your brain.
Books are the best way to get acquainted to a new place, learn about its culture. It doesn’t matter which part of the world you reside in, books have always helped people forge unknown bonds. Take for instance, if you were to visit a new country, a book, or a kindle, or even an online article with descriptions about the place, its history, significance and the sensibilities of the people there will come handy, any day.
That way, it could be safely said, reading helps develop empathy, too. Learning about different ways of life, struggles of people across continents, finding about complex dynamic of relationships and accepting the characters of the book for the way they are would make you a mature person, who is aware of the black, white as also the grey areas.
BOOKS RELIVE YOUR MOMENTS
Days before I had planned a trip to Corbett National Park last year, I had, out of curiosity, borrowed ‘Man-eaters of Kumaon’ from a friend. The book by Jim Corbett, the man after whom the national park has been named, paints vivid pictures of Garhwal locales, its people and culture, and the danger that lurks in its corners.
The very next week, during my trip, I almost got a chance to relive his experiences in Kumaon. Albeit tigers no longer are on the prowl, but his spine-chilling exploitations almost played out before my eyes, as I got a glimpse of the big cats in the Himalayan forest surrounded by blue verdant mountains.
As W Somerset Maugham has said, “To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.” Once you have developed the habit of reading, you would know how to immerse yourself in a world that is distinctly different from yours. It will help you unwind and might even cure you of insomnia, all the while increasing your knowledge and vocabulary.
HOW TO BEGIN
If not books, pick up a magazine or a newspaper. That would help your cause, too.
Now, there are very many who might say that they find it difficult to pore over books. Well, now that you are aware of the benefits of reading, you can try and inculcate the habit.
- For a start, create a reading pattern. If not more, read at least 15 to 20 pages every day. Despite busy schedule, this process will help you stay focused as you try and accomplish your daily goal. In a few days, you would find yourself setting new goals, and soon enough reading would become a part of your lifestyle.
- Find yourself a quiet place to read, somewhere you can be on your own for the next hour or two. Keep your electronic gadgets away. Curl up in a sofa and just read away
- That said, you should also remember that reading in not a task. You should take your time and enjoy what you are reading. If necessary, read and re-read pages till you understand the context. There is absolutely no hurry.
- You may also join a book club or an online forum, where you could share your thoughts with other readers and find fresh perspectives to a story or novel that you have read. Book clubs also would help you connect with like-minded people, who might even recommend names of paperbacks to you, if you are up for it.
- Make a list of books that you have read/plan to read. Be sure to update it from time to time. Cross out the ones that you have read.
READERS MAKE FOR GOOD LEADERS
Simply reading about something and forgetting it in due course of time wouldn’t do much good. You need to process the information and apply it, too. Next time, don’t shy away from a debate competition or a group discussion, if the topic is of interest to you. Very soon, you would find out where you stand when it comes to having in-depth knowledge of a subject.
It’s not just your creative skills that are stimulated when you read, your analytical skills get better, too. You would learn to think and act logically. It would also poke the curiosity bug in you, and you would start asking questions instead of swallowing all info provided to you.
Books, especially memoirs, can be a great source of inspiration. You can learn from their struggles and mistakes and put those lessons to good use, as and when needed.
PAGES OF LIFE
The world writes its own diary every day.
As they say, there is a book for every moment of life. Be it the great World War or the Covid-19 battle, there are plenty of pages waiting for you from between the covers.
By the way, currently, I am longing to get hold of ‘Pandemic! – Covid-19 Shakes The World’ by Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek and uncover its mind-boggling paradoxes.
Happy reading folks.
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