Joy of Reading

If anyone asks about my weekend, the first thing that comes to my mind is that I read…a lot! But I often don’t say that because it does not interest most people enough to keep the conversation going. I guess that is the pressure of fitting in. Social life can be tricky being “nerdy”, especially once you’re done with college. Not that I don’t have other interests, but reading tops the chart. The truth is I loved reading as a child and I am in love with it again. I find beauty in words and comfort in books. I can spend endless hours reading and not get bored. I romanticize sitting in cozy coffee shops and just reading. It is surprising but I don’t find many people who openly share this interest. I occasionally see Goodreads updates but that’s about it. I hope I refresh some connections after this post.

One of the things I regret is not having read enough since I got into high school. Almost for a decade, demands of preparing for a career took priority over everything else. This is quite common in Indian or even Asian families. I think my teens and early twenties could easily be defined by admissions, academics, exams and job applications, and perhaps rightfully so. Any remaining time was consumed by the distractions or attractions of youth, however you want to consider. While I don’t regret that, I do regret the fact that I lost some discipline, especially in terms of extra reading. However, the good thing is it is still not too late. I am on the edge of my twenties now and I want to enter the next phase as a more well-read and hopefully wiser individual. So, my new year resolution in 2019 was to read more books and I feel good that I have lived up to it so far.

There are times when I slip. This happens especially when I’m a few chapters down into a book and then lose steam. It’s usually when the content becomes hard to understand, or, when I feel there are still a lot of pages to cover and I will be stuck in the same book for a long time, or, when the content just gets boring. There is a strong mental inertia so I end up not reading for few days because I lose the drive. I tried to push myself to get back but when the flow of reading is lost, it is hard to come back. I tried another approach. Instead of forcing myself to start again at the point I left off in a book, I skipped the chapter or page or jumped to a new book altogether. I think it is a psychological trick. A new beginning feels fresh and exciting. Once that temporary hitch is overcome, I feel accomplished and motivated. This strategy has kept me on track. Check an older post of mine on a similar theme: https://sayali4sara.com/2019/01/01/ideas-for-more-reading/

As I started reading more, I realized what I had been missing. During the time I wasn’t reading books, I read several good articles/essays from reputed publications. In that sense, I thought I was up to date. However, when I got into books again, I realized that articles simply scratch the surface and cannot match the level of insight coming from a book. A book requires substantial amount of time to write as compared to an article. It also means that the author has spent much more time collecting and refining their thoughts. While essays help us get introduced to topics, deeper understanding of any subject requires books. I do think our generation should read more books as it aids in developing well-informed and balanced views about the world. While reading books, I feel the reader also spends more time reflecting on a specific topic. This is quite useful in an age of information overload and flickering attention, where we jump from one thing to the next. With time, I also learnt to question what was written in books instead of just taking them at face value. Initially, I would get influenced by a particular book. As I read more books on similar topics, I came across totally diverging perspectives that would put me in a dilemma on what to agree with. That is where reading became an active pursuit from a passive one. I started exploring the author’s background and how that may have influenced what they write. I also analyze what content I have strong reactions to and explore why.

Reading has also become a source to push myself. I have been stretching myself to read more complex and intense books. Read things that I would be uncomfortable with. Read genres that I typically do not. It is challenging and motivating. It also strengthened my patience, focus and discipline. I feel I am exploring myself and my interests through reading. Reading brings me unparalleled satisfaction as it helps me take a step forward towards the answers I seek. It brings hope and optimism. As I read and highlight lines, it makes me feel that I am a student forever.

 

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