Lemony Snicket had once said 'Wicked people never have time for reading. It's one of the reasons for their wickedness.'. Time and again I have found myself at junctures where I needed to go back to these lines. Sometimes for the sheer comfort, I received from its meaning and sometimes just for that feeling of being understood. It felt like someone finally gave the exact words to what most readers encounter these days.
The position of reading in an age of shallow, material relationships is frankly, quite rocky. People are moving away from books to other recreational activities. Some that are probably more outdoorsy and adventurous than hanging on to your comfortable corner with your current read and a steaming mug of tea. But to say that reading was once considered one of the most tried and tested ways of achieving a state of superiority, not just intellectual but also a holistic one, would not be a misrepresentation of facts.
Reading usually came first as a practice and then later as a hobby for many. From time immemorial, our parents, teachers, and mentors have urged us to develop the habit of reading, i.e. the habit of reading for pleasure. Starting with children's book that can still be a perfect company for an adult, and just diving right into the author’s world of mysteries, the vivid settings and enchanting stories. As a child, it is the greatest gift to be able to set foot into a world where even the most unexpected things can be expected. It is a place where the strangest things for and everything eventually becomes alright and it is extremely important that a child is taught that.
A book contains the greater lessons of life. Perhaps the ones that we cannot experience for ourselves and have to rely on the author to narrate for us. These accounts of people, sometimes in strange lands or sometimes in different times and ages teach us the values of life and thereby of living. Reading opens to us the numerous possibilities that are out there for us to reach out to and discover. Through experiences read, we relate and hope to achieve something beyond the ordinary and exceeding the mundane.
However, it must be noted that one cannot simply restrict the utility of books to the development of a better vocabulary or a brighter ideology towards life. The content of a book has the ability to stir up the greatest discussions and in turn the most colorful conversations amongst people. Individuals with habits of reading make exceptional writers, leaders, orators, public speakers, conversationalists and can be really interesting people to engage with. Thus, it is safe to say that one seldom has a dull moment with an avid reader but I am afraid, the same cannot always be said for non-readers!
Readers know of nameless, distant worlds, of people- rich and poor, discovering life in their full chaos and glory. They travel with characters on their journeys, learning with them the art of patience, concentration and perseverance. It is a well known fact that people who read, generally have a broader mind and a wider perspective than people who choose to avoid cultivating that habit. With a knowledge of different individuals, their different cultures and their different, daily struggles, it teaches them to be tolerant and develop an unbiased outlook towards the world. They are aware of the human potential and the power of compassion and kindness.
Along with the power to play with words, they, more often than not, contain in themselves a transferred spirit of their favorite characters. These figures, though mostly fictional provide these individuals with a sense of direction and responsibility which in turn creates in them a need to grow out of their cocoons and in their own ways, rise above into something worthy and extraordinary.
In a world of increasing technology and mechanization, it is important that we at least bring back the old household practices of a little light reading before bedtime. To read is to explore a domain out of the corporal reach. Children need to feel the need to hold a book by its bind and walk along the ups and downs with characters. Reading is a gift that keeps on giving and after all this time, is it okay to forego the idea that books are indeed a man’s best friend?