The Habit of Reading

Whenever I go out of the circle of my friends and colleagues from teaching profession to other part of society,I encounter a question in different forms; Why one should read? Even in my profession,I donot find many enthusiasts who relish reading on its own.For them also, reading is a necessary evil to be controlled as much as one can and only to indulge in it when essential for teaching or research purpose.But in the normal world (academic world is considered far from real world),people do not like reading. A world full of babus, doctors, engineers, shopkeepers, administrators, politicians, multinational workers, housewives and other parts of middle class is not interested in reading.They honestly believe that reading does not help them in the real world which is full of intrigues, monsters or hard realities where bookish knowledge has no place.To deal with reality you require practical skills and experience.They may just flipped through local newspaper in the morning and that so for some sale or local incidents and then go on with their routine.The habit of reading newspapers and doing puja early morning is also waning.People have become health conscious and morning time is for yoga, walking or exercise and drinking mixed juice with all types of gradients from tulsi leaves to ginger.No one believes that God has any hand in keeping us healthy or looking after our well being.Going to temple or performing rituals are more out of dekha dekhi than from any conviction.In such a body centric world, books are loosing grounds.who remembers Mark Twain who famously said,”A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read.” Or Richard Steele,”Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.”

Books are supposed to be fertiliser for mental health.But who is interested in mental health.People do not have time to even talk to themselves.They are busy in their routinised life well described by writers like Camus and Kafka.Even for getting information from google Wikipedias, TV channels. Even Whatsapp and Facebook have replaced books and regrettably no one is interested in knowledge. I was surprised by impertinent question put up to me by some former colleagues when I told them that I am reading books of my discipline and writing books,”Why ? Now you are retire enjoy your life.”I failed to make them understand that by reading and writing I am enjoying my life.With the expansion of sources of information in this globalized world,the habit of reading books is taking a beat.If we look at the lives of successful people we will invariably find that they have habit of reading along with physical exercise.There are various benefits of reading books.Mental stimulation is foremost.With ageing you require constant mental exercise to make your mind alert.Reading books stimulates your brain and help makes it alert.Reading books increases your knowledge and information.Information is power.The more you are informed or more you are knowledgeable more you are apt to deal with the world outside.The Reading habit is an antidote to depression.You come to know about the varieties of experiences of human life.One forgets about one’s problem when one gets to know the miseries of others.This habit also helps you in developing concentration and focus.For academics and writers reading books help them to improve their vocabulary and consequently improve their writings.Last but not the least it helps in dealing with stress and make your life more peaceful.

In the recent times, literature festivals are organized to create awareness about literature specially among youth.Here publishers along with industries sponsor famous writers who have recently published something noticeable. The writers are asked to talk about the contemporary debates around their writings and require to participate in question answer session with the audience.This festival started in Jaipur and now spread all over the country.Namita Gokhale, William Dalrymple and like were the initiator of this festival which has caught the imagination of young generation.The number of persons participating in such a literary festival is enormous and enthralling. Literature festival are more of like premier shows of new released film and a festival for young and old to intermingle and show off some intellectualism. The propaganda and marketing has replaced the serious discussion on burning issues.We have borrowed this new style of dialogue from the west and specially from TV channels,Here two or three persons are sitting and having a dialogue and people are watching.A journalist probes a celebrity about everything and a celebrity is supposed to know answers about all the subjects. This half an hour interactive session gives only some peripheral talk about current topics and no serious reflections on the subject .I appreciate the traditional way of discussing subjects where an expert speaks for thirty five or forty minutes and the chairman of the session gives his erudite comments after a few question and answers.This way the subject is dealt with in a serious sense other wise the exercise becomes a propaganda exercise.The only ray of hope is youngsters, especially those who are displaced from their homes for pursuing education or in job, could be found searching for book in Crosswords or making amazon rich by their purchases of books through them

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