If someone were to ask me, ” What is the one skill which has hugely impacted your life so far”? Undoubtedly, my reply would be the ability to read effectively. I cannot thank my mother enough for bringing those Champaks, BalHans and Nandan in my childhood and most importantly for introducing me to the first Harry Potter book.
However it really hurts me to see that with the growth of modern entertainment options like smartphones, television, Facebook, Whats App and every other thing which is on the verge of becoming an addiction for people, we have entirely forgotten our oldest and the best friends: BOOKS. Today the only people who seem bit interested in reading are the people aiming to improve their vocabulary and spoken English to get that coveted job opportunity.
It makes me cringe when I see students, especially in India, trying to read a newspaper, fancy book or a blog, with a notebook and pencil in hand to underline the good looking words and then rummaging through the pages of dictionary to find and learn their meanings. But it is actually not their fault. Today it is a common scene in many schools and colleges where students ask their English teacher or the placement people to give some tips to improve English so that they can move forward in life and get that corporate job which would supposedly solve all their problems and finally they would be happy and satisfied ( rolling my eyes 😀 ).
A few ‘expert’ tips which they get in return are :
- Read English newspapers
- Watch English news
- Read English novels
- Have a pen and paper while doing the above things
And there you go. Problem solved. Now you see excited people carrying The Times of India, The Hindu, Dan Brown, Charles Dickens in their bags or people trying to watch and comprehend Rajdeep Sardesai on CNN IBN (now India Today) but ultimately switching to cameraman Yogesh with Rajan Chaurasia on Aaj Tak.
I agree that some people may succeed to some extent by doing the above things but I feel they completely missed the whole point of reading and sooner or later, once they are happy and satisfied by that job ( Ohh..my eyes got stuck at top 😀 ), TOI is back to packing the eatables and Robert Langdon is again left alone, perhaps this time trying to solve the mystery with CID on SONY.
Why is Reading a skill for Lifetime and not just a skill to achieve external success ?
George Clayson remarks beautifully in the Richest Man in Babylon that learning is of two kinds: the one being the things we learned and knew, and the other being the training that taught us how to find out what we did not know.
And any skill which can help in knowing what we don’t know is definitely worth learning. Reading is one such skill and is not limited just to book-nerds and intellectuals and can be learnt like any other skill but is going to benefit you whole life. Even researching Google becomes a lot more effective if a person has effective reading skills at his command.
To be a life-long learner and explorer reading is a skill for lifetime. But when we start reading with an objective of learning some language, new words or to achieve something external, it is highly likely we may miss the whole range of benefits reading can provide. It is like focusing on producing molasses while ignoring the production of sugarcane. Molasses are going to be there; there is no extra effort needed for them.
So what are the sugar canes of reading? Simple: It will give you a chance to explore the world in the cheapest way; form your own opinions and standpoint and most importantly a chance to know yourself, as a lot can be said about a person by the books he read and when you start reading with an explorer’s mind, a new whole world of new hope, beliefs and possibilities will open up to you.
Removing the Major Obstacle to Reading
It is sad that in a country obsessed with education, reading is a skill highly under rated and very less encouraged. There is no training to read effectively and believe me, there are indeed systematic methods and tricks to reading effectively and quickly and those who are voracious readers have knowingly or unknowingly developed those skills during their reading sprees.
So if you are someone who thinks that I am too slow in reading and reading a novel is a far off thing when reading a chapter of textbook is a nightmare for me, there is a way out of it. Actually there is a way always; we just have to really look at the right place. To develop an effective reading habit, I highly recommend the book“How to read better and faster ” by Norman Lewis. You just need patience and perseverance with this book and slowly you will really start enjoying reading.
So instead of spending those 300 Rupees on your friend, girlfriend, boyfriend or ‘good’ friend, invest those in yourself . Later when you go all intellectual type on your friends or impress your loved one with some beautiful lines from Nicholas Sparks, you would realize it was all worth it.
Few More Tips for Beginners who want to develop Reading Habit
A right mindset is very necessary in whatever thing you choose to do and the same goes to reading, especially if you have just started to read.
1. Never read to improve your English vocabulary
I cannot stress this point enough. Do not focus on the molasses when you have the whole sugarcane field to harvest.
2. Be curious. Read to explore.
There are things outside you, your life, your problems and all the petite things. You are not the center of universe. You are the universe itself. Be curious about things, about people and about life. Love Life. Love Living. Love Reading.
3. Start small. Be patient.
A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step. If currently you face difficulties in reading that long article om your favorite sports team or have never read before, do not expect to be reading classics in 2-3 months. Start small, say 10 minutes a day and gradually increase your time.
4. Read what you like in beginning and slowly begin to enter other genres once the habit begins to develop.
You do not need to read big fancy novels at start. You do not even need any novels. Just run a Google search on your favorite topic, sports star, film star or any thing and read that interesting piece of article on any website or blog.
5. If someone calls you boring, serious and nerd because you read; smile at them serenely and ignore them. Reading is cool. Period.
6. Do not just read and forget or accept everything in the books. Read with an open mind and then analyse it, form your own opinion, and judge it brutally but not by its cover. We do that all the time with everything so why not with a book.
There is a world out there beyond our day to day thinking; an exciting world full of new ideas and stories which can lead you to the journey to far off places and make you appreciate the real beauty of life and people around you. Begin this journey and take as many people as you can along with you.
If you like this post or feel even a bit inspired by it to start reading, share it with as many people as you can. Start a Reading Revolution. Promote reading to all your friends and family. Live. Laugh. Explore. Inspire. Read.