It is a sad truth that in current times books are sold on pavements, whereas shoes adorn glitzy showrooms. Books usually cost much less than even a pair of slippers, but people tend to splurge on fancy footwear and other luxuries to the detriment of books. The need for people to read more, and
to thus learn more and also become more dignified in their conduct, cannot be over emphasized in these rumbustious times. But right from their nascent years, modern kids are being allowed to ignore the reading habit, and they focus more on video based digital content.
The sight of a young girl chuckling to herself while leafing through the pages of an old book is probably one of the most inspiring sights there can be. Books are eternal friends and can bring smiles as well as laughs to the discerning reader, years after they had been written or published.
The works of amazing writers like Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie, PG Wodehouse, Alistair Maclean, Arthur Conan Doyle and RK Narayan formed an integral part of my reading arsenal as a boy. And I was none the poorer for it! I recall vividly the thrill, joy and sheer sense of adventure that I felt while swimming deep into the oceanic volumes of their writings, feeling truly uplifted each time. Love stories were largely not for me but some of them were unmatchable. The well written word clings to one’s mind much after one has read it, and one tends to bask in its after-glow long after.
Wodehouse, for example, would come up with sentences like: ‘What’s the use of a great city having temptations if fellows don’t yield to them?!’ and ‘Unseen in the background, Fate was quietly slipping lead into the boxing glove!’
One would sit and marvel at such writing for long moments while savouring the sheer depth, meaning and might of each such sentence. Television adaptations of Wodehouse’s writings never quite reproduced the verve, magic and charm of his written word. He had the innate talent of
infusing a sense of happiness and laughter in his readers, and his books continue to reflect just that.
Christie would enthrall her readers with astonishing twists in the tale which never could have crossed their minds, even remotely. Her leading light, Hercule Poirot, would live in our hearts, and still does, along with his twirls and twitches. We would imagine his heavily accented one-liners being mouthed effortlessly, creating the sort of impact in our minds that only a great writer could bring about.
Even simple stories like those of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, as well as Commando comics and a plethora of other entertainers, used to make us feel elevated, excited, and pepped up. Books were, and are, friends of the kind that never leave one, and are accessible at all times.
The irony is that a variety of digital options have actually made the reading of books easier today. One can read on the go and on the run. One can read while waiting for a meeting or appointment. One can read at any time, by just clicking an icon on the phone. But the tendency to read is reducing
and the habit of browsing aimlessly through social media sites has increased appallingly.
Books can help to fashion personalities and add substance to an individual’s persona. And it is rather easy to make out that a particular individual reads a lot, or doesn’t. A conversation with someone who is an avid reader is mostly an invigorating experience. Unless of course he or she has become
over pompous as a result!
The stark fact is that in an era when impatience and hurriedness appear to be universal traits, reading books may even seem to be an unproductive pursuit. Those who are supposedly busy might be loath to spending hours on reading books. But if they prioritise their lives and take time out to do
just that, they will truly gain from the experience. My new TEDx talk is titled, ‘Read a Book, Write a Book.’ Let’s start a campaign to make humanity fall in love with books all over again!