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How to read today

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I just read Lipi Mehta’s article on TheReader about her habit of reading and how it disappeared.

I faced a similar situation at one point in my life when I realized that I’ve stopped reading. I used to read a few books a year, at least but of late I’d struggled with even one. This is the advice I gave to myself and to Lipi as a comment on the site –

So many of us began our lives as readers and then slowed or stopped. I got the mantle of “William Shakespeare III” in 9th class for my habit of writing, which to me is nothing more than an extension of my habit of reading. The phrase, “you read a lot”, has stuck with me throughout my life.

But just like you, I don’t read as much any more. I moved on to the Internet a long time ago and things just seem to go along. Here and there, I’d read a book. Then I was gifted an iPad and I thought, “this is it; now I’ll read a lot!” That didn’t happen.

Of late, I’ve discovered something – if I can pick up a book with a good font and just devote every evening to it, I’ll get through it. I read James Michener’s Poland like that recently. It was just me and the book every evening after work. It irritated everyone around me, but I stuck to it and did finish it. I tried to do the same for “Bullet or the Ballot Box”, a book about the recent history of Nepal. But I had to return the library copy. I then realized that I must move on to eBooks. I found the ebook and did the same thing I did for Poland, this time on my phone. I got through the book and made extensive notes too.

Now, I’ve decided to tackle “War and Peace”. It’s a massive book. I know this not by the size of the book in my hand, but the number of chapters iBooks lists in the index. But I’m toiling through it, one line at a time. I read whenever I get the chance – travelling in the bus, waiting for someone or something, a few pages before I sleep.

I know I’ll get through this book too. It’ll be disjointed and broken. The experience will not be as character-building as the books in our childhood were – we used to read voraciously, swallowing ideas and notions whole. Now, it’ll be a miracle to just get through the book.

But here’s my suggestion to you – load up a book on your phone. Find eBooks or borrow them. Just don’t make the mistake of loading up a library. Make it one book at a time and read as much as you can, as often as you can. Suddenly, you’ll realize that you’d have gone through most of the book and the plot will be able to climax. That’s when you’ll thank yourself for taking this advice!

Cheers!
Nitin