A Wordy Pursuit

Books are your passport to the universe. Sreeram Vishwanath explores the many reasons we should keep turning those pages

When journalist, editor, critic, translator, women’s rights advocate, the first American female war correspondent, and full-time book reviewer Margaret Fuller quoted, “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader,” she knew well the value black print carries in unlocking great potential in a man.

All great leaders admit that reading is a habit, either innate or inculcated, to keep them informed and abreast with the happenings and knowledge crucial to them in the position they hold. If you are an avid reader yourself, then here is a thumbs-up for you; if not, it isn’t ever late to begin.

THE BOOK CULTURE

Agreed that the hassles of the modern world keeps us swamped and overloaded. We are either too busy to read or decide not to. And when we do have some time, it’s the television shows that are more alluring, and the easy-to-access social media platforms also have to a great extent, led to dislodged priorities.

The pursuit of reading is thoroughly and ignorantly misunderstood. Let’s take the example of students, some of whose parents consider reading to be a mere distraction from the more important educational curriculum. A note to such parents here – the benefits of reading may not be all-too-obvious. It may not give one an instant vocabulary improvement, help one learn English in 90 days, or make one the Wizard of Oz. However, the most beautiful things in life are subtle and take time to brew.

Parts of society still label readers as ‘bookworms’ – those whose lives are encapsulated in a book or people without the passion and drive to enjoy life’s bigger things. This shows the inertia that people have towards the reading community or towards people who follow a different plane of thought.

WORDS THAT MATTER

Despite the plethora of inventions that we have with us today, books and literature continue to rule the roast, well, at least for some. Change is the only constant they say, and the world of literature has also transformed momentously, introducing and bringing together many great writers, editors, columnists, authors, and their transformative works. Without them, we would never have escaped the boundaries of a life that is often mundane.

It is our biggest inspiration source and connects us to characters, stories, and minds unlike any other. It throws a vivid light into the human condition while allowing us to live and dream the impossible and truly evidences that life in itself is a most wondrous fairy-tale.

All of us read, every day, in some form or the other. But is that enough, and will that do? Let’s dive further.

WE READ, ANYWAY

We all read at some point in our daily lives. We read when we scroll through social media, and we read the caption of the next Netflix watch or the advertisement on that billboard. But what we consume in these forms is hardly deliberate, as we are mostly mindless during the process. Moreover, many things we find on these platforms are not value-centric. Yes, it seems glittering, authentic to an extent but is also sinister in its effects (barring a few exceptions).

“You are what you read. The information that you input into your mind informs your thinking patterns and influences your output in the form of the decisions you make, the work you produce, and the interactions you have” – Zat Rana.

This doesn’t mean that we should back out of all social media platforms and disconnect our internet connections tomorrow morning. It’s not about the tool; it’s about the way we use it. And the internet certainly has plenty of good content to consume. Amazon reviews and ratings help a reader decipher the quality of the publication and the contents before deciding to finally make the purchase. Kindle, the e-reading platform unparalleled to any other, brings thousands of books at our disposal, all of which can be read with lesser investments and space. The digital medium, in a way, introduces us to people and characters whom we would have rarely come across or read about.

SOME BOOKS FOR YOU

Here is the list of some books that I chanced upon. Some of these I found to be life-changing, while others provided a tinge of warmth and fun, which is very important in a world going dreary with panic messages: The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini – Some books are symphony towards the lips, while some are to the soul. The Kite Runner, a historical fiction inspired by the author’s childhood, undoubtedly falls among the latter. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkein – Is one of the most enchanting fantasy reads of the English language. The tale of getting back the long-forgotten gold from the misty mountains cold. Rosy is My Relative, by Gerrald Durell – Say hello to one of the most brilliant writers on the planet. This fiction (though the author says it’s an almost true story) provides the reader with a sense of warmth and innocence that one can only associate with the villages.
Just William, by Richmal CromptonA children’s fictional literature, the book has plenty of humor, and it comes with the potential to grab the attention of kids and avid readers who wouldn’t mind taking a detour to their childhood. The Naked Indian Women, by Sangeetha Shinde Tee This book chronicles the lives of the unheard daughters of India. You don’t need to be a feminist to read this non-fiction book; you just need to care for humanity. The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy – The writing is soothingly lyrical, and at the same time, caustic. The fiction is a treat to the senses, despite its unflinching brutality. Consider this quote – “They all crossed into forbidden territory. They all tampered with the laws that lay down who should be loved and how. And how much.”

NOT JUST A CLASSROOM ACTIVITY

Reading is something that can begin with the classroom but must extend beyond its corridors. The best of habits are not habits anymore; it’s an essential way of life. And with reading, you have not only built on a great practice, but you have also sown the seeds of great leadership within yourself. The realization will come when in a situation, the words will spring back at you, showing a direction where they seemed to be a black hole. Reading matters, but what you read matters more!

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