Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Reading as a Habit

I seem to have come a long way since I read my first book, Enid Blyton’s The Secret Seven that I borrowed from a local library some 30 years back. Noddy, Asterix and TinTin saw me through Primary School while Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys kept me company through my days in High School. Summer Holidays were spent reading, Reading in the morning, in the afternoon and in the night. Sometimes three Hardy Boys’ books in one day! I then graduated to more mature authors like Agatha Christie, Irving Wallace, Ken Follet, Alister Maclean, Arthur Hailey, Jeffery Archer, Sydney Sheldon and other contemporaries. A good book can be very gratifying. The ones I have read brought out the setting in such vivid detail that the lingering taste of Stout on my tongue or the directions to Saville row comes from books. During School and College I spent most of the time reading Fiction and was addicted to it for over fifteen years. Sometime during my stint in Mumbai I discovered the literary world – Non Fiction, since then I have hardly read any works of Fiction, one exception though has been Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Literally one thing led to another and today I am surrounded by books on various arcane (not in my opinion) subjects – From Freud’s Interpretation of dreams to John Adam’s Wealth of Nations. Looking back I sometimes wonder, How did one thing lead to another? How did reading become so addictive? What do others have to do to develop reading as a habit? Here are some notes from my trunk.

An excellent way to start is to read a page a day. Or better still read when you have your morning tea. Read while commuting to work. Place books by your bedside table and read before going to bed. .You’ll be surprised you would have read more than a page.

Pick up something that interests you. It could be the latest Jeffery Archer thriller or some self improvement guides. But pick up something interesting and something that you need not plough through by brute force.

Carry a book with you. You’ll be surprised at the opportunities you get to read a page. Take a book while you commute to work, take it during a journey. If there is time when you have to wait like for an appointment with a doctor you just flip it open and read a few pages.

Make a list of books that you want to read. Better still make a list of books that you want to buy. You can maintain a journal where you can write this down. During the course of your reads you would come across interesting anecdotes or facts Note these down in your journals. You can also create a list on Amazon and add to it. This way you would also get a picture of the cover. Literary reviews appear in every major newspaper and magazine. Cut the interesting ones and paste them in your journal. Use your Journal to keep a log of all your reads. You can also write a short review piece on each of the books you have read along with the start and Finish dates.

Enroll in a library. Its possibly the cheapest way to get access to books. The next best option is to visit a second hand book shop to get dirt cheap books.

Enroll yourself in a good Book Club. The weRead Book Club on Facebook is probably the most popular network for Books. They also have a list of top 200 books that one should read during a lifetime. It’s a good place to start.

And finally turn of the television, the cellphone, your gaming devices and be off the Internet.

My reading habit has broadened my horizons, made me savor life that would have other wise been boring, it has made me taste stuff that I would have never dared, it has taken me places that I have never been to. After all there is no point in being literate if all you do everyday is to watch soap.


montoo said...

Hi Sridhar,

Ah - a good note on the said topic.

Those names of Fiction Novel Authors were like a nostalgic list. Very difficult to get the aura of most of them back. Most of them now either donot write - or are summarily buried in dust. FYI - I still keep myself busy in those Finctional ones. As they say - REALITY BITES. Too much of reality is already reported in print and electronic media for me to read about one or some of those in form of a book!!!! Have not changed that much - now have I?

A good addition could have been a suggestion to start the journey to "Reading" with a good novel/book. I have always felt that people who have started their habbit of reading have always either picked a damn good novel as their first one and/or were loaned a good book/novel by a friend. I have met a few who picked up some desperately boring books/novels as their first one and have never since touched another book. So when someone asks me which book to read - my first question is if they have read novels ealrier or not. And if I find that they have been virgins in that respect - I am extremely careful in suggesting/lending a book. I know if I fail there - we would lose one prospective candidate for our club and would have ruined the chances of him/her becoming an avid reader.

I remember my Dad thursting an English novel in my hands way back - when I was in 9th Class. He himself was/is an avid/passionate reader since his childhood and was infuriated at me reading those Hindi novels (of which I had become very fond of then). I was told to read that english novel and complete it before I touched anyother novel of any kind. I read through that novel... and have never since looked at a Hindi Novel. Later down the years when I thanked my Dad for that initiative of his - he said he knew I would get hooked to reading English Novels because he had carefully selected the "first book" that he thurst on me to read. I knew then - that I had to be even more thankful to him for the Novel that he gave me then was "The Godfather" by Maria Puzo. I am not sure anyone can ever turn back after reading such a book. Have not till date!

Thanks to you - I have had a chance to think back to those days. Oh - those wonderful days.

Take care,
Mantosh Singh..

Sridhar Pandurangiah said...

You got me thinking on what should be the ideal book to start with. I started with the Enid Blyton's Secret Seven series as mentioned by me in the article. I guess it depends on the age but nevertheless you have set me thinking what is that one book that people of all ages can start with - Some possibilities - Harry Potter!