As children, we’re taught the alphabets, one by one. And then come the words, and the carefully-crafted sentences. Our elders often read out to us, hoping that it will tingle our grey (and massively creative) cells, and make us want to take it up as a hobby or even better, as a habit. Some of us carry forward the beacon and start our voyage with ‘Tinkle’, or ‘Champak’, while some don’t, not realising the worth of whatever they’ll miss out on by not engaging in this Game of Reads. Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.
You could see each genre as separate kingdoms, waging a war against each other (in your mind) to win a place on the Iron Throne (your heart). There will be bouts between fantasy fiction v/s science fiction or children’s literature v/s religious texts - each wielded by that one thing which is mightier than the sword – penned down locutions by diverse writers under the umbrella of literature’s endless spectrum.
In today’s globalised world, communication is the key to everything, and it can be seen as KFC chicken – the crispier, the better.
The value of crisp and smart conversations cannot be underestimated. How do we attain that attribute? The only way to achieve it is to increase our vocabulary. And how do we accomplish that? We do that by reading! Books, magazines, tabloids, blogs, newspapers, graphic novels, comics, etc. – these are the various mediums that provide us the platforms for our journeys into different kinds of worlds and knowledge; throughout this process, our mind adds new words to its memory without us realising it. Think of yourself going on a long trip through space, unexplored lands and meadows, fountains of facts and skills – an escape from the monotony of life. It sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? It has an added advantage of attaching more worded feathers to your (growing) cap.
The books are rich in knowledge, passion, memories, spirit, and time. They can be visited and revisited at the behest of you; they can provide different aspects and angles each time. They are rich in diversity, variety, magic, and love, along with power, history and mystery. They open up unseen doors for us, giving us a mighty amount of perspectives and stories, almost like a panorama on the platter! I don’t think anything can beat having chunks of the world in your palms via these works of perfected fancy and creativity.
The best part is that there is always a paper companion for each phase of our lives. As children, we enjoy the company of Tintin and his adventures (with his quirky ‘quiff’), Suppandi, Chacha Choudhary, the Famous Five and Secret Seven gangs, through their mountain treks and cruise mysteries. As we enter into our adolescence, we begin to hang out with the Sweet Valley High twins, Nancy Drew, the ghosts from the ‘Fear Street’ series, Mr. Poirot – the list is endless. Some of us prefer the company of non-fictional characters, which is pretty cool as it adds to our reserve of information. We grow older and begin to “chill” with Nicholas Sparks and his love stories, Ken Follett with his thrillers and Jeffery Archer with his variety of works. We also start to read ‘Femina’, ‘Vogue’, ‘Harper’s Bazaar’ for light reading on topics like fashion, models, beauty tips; ‘Men’s Health’, ‘Maxim’, ‘People’, ‘90 Minutes’- soon, the progression comes in the form of ‘The Week’, ‘Outlook’ and ‘Reader’s Digest’, which contain the perfect balance of light and heavy reads, with heavy tinges of philosophy. In the end, people often resort to religious texts to seek hope, faith or anything else.
It’s not restricted to phase alone. There’s a paper that has got your back (hence, ‘paperback’, according to me) for every kind of job and field. Cookbooks, medical studies, law, media, engineering, economy, religion, ports, fashion journals – it’s all out there. We are the ones who need to tap the resources of these thought-provoking texts, to grow as individuals, personally and professionally.
As an introvert, reading is not just any hobby. It’s a way of life. I see my paged world as a place I resort to for rejuvenation and refreshment. I’ve never been to Germany, but I can describe Anne Frank’s both, real and hiding-house, down to its very last detail. I have never met a Cajun, but I can tell you his/her general characteristics, and the same goes for those ‘Mills and Boons’ cowboys! (They’re SO hot (and unrealistic, but still!)). I could go on and on about how much I’ve learnt during my expedition through this little paradise of mine, but I would like you to experience that for yourself, without my words influencing yours. In today’s hustle-bustle, we often forget to just sit back and think or give time to ourselves. Reading gives us exactly that – that sense of freedom and space. When you’re browsing through the leaves (could be that on a Kindle, too) in front of you, it’s a whole new world out there, with only your own company to explore it.
A friend of mine once told me how detached I was from reality, and that I should stop living in my “fragile” paper-land and step into the real one. If only she could realise how sailing in that very paper-boat makes me ready to face any storm, and gives me the pleasure of visiting new and unfound land(s), while anchoring me to the existing ones as well.
Indulge in this gratifying habit, if you aren’t doing so already. Pick up a book from your favourite genre, and give it a chance to open your eyes to the magical words and scenes which you’ve been missing out on, because, no one – I repeat, no one- finishes the Harry Potter series without experiencing all sorts of emotions, challenges, ideas and life-lessons, something which even the real world might never be able to teach! Do it now, while you’re young enough to grasp essential pieces of life through them, and before you’re too old to understand and put the words of wisdom to some use. Read, and then read some more. You’ll be doing a huge favour to yourself if you give your eyes and mind a treat by placing lettered beauties (they could be of any kind, fictional or non-fictional) in front of them.
P.S – Do watch ‘Nim’s Island’ if you want to see how Hollywood (too) understands that literature teaches you a lot in life and that we all should be booked by it, quite literally!
P.P.S – Go out there, and read a little, and then some more!
Photography By: Nihal Shah