All Talk and No Action Monday, June 14, 2010

Prasad Ajinkya,  a colleague, is someone I have shared lots of laughs with, of late. When I found out his love for reading, I couldn't help asking him to write a guest post on how he got hooked to the loveliest hobby of all time. I hope the below post evokes enough interest in non readers to take up reading. For the rest, treat it as a nostalgic trip to your childhood.


Reading as a lifelong practice
During my formative years, my parents took pains to ensure that I got access to a lot of books. As a baby I used to happily tear out pages from a book; the only reason my parents must have restrained themselves from taking that book away from me was the hope that one day I shall start reading the book instead of simply tearing it. Well, they were right, many torn books later, I opened a book and started reading it instead!! 'twas a hand-me-down book which had been purchased on the footpath of Fort area in Churchgate. Malory Towers by Enid Blyton ... Darrell Rivers and her stay at the Cornish school, it was almost magical (ala Harry Potter). Then came the Famous Five and Secret Seven, soon followed by the detectives; Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Hercules Poirot and of course my favorite Sherlock Holmes. Every year my sister and I used to wait for vacations, because vacations meant - travel, bags of books, library subscriptions and lounging around all day reading books. Reading was a big help at various points in my life, for which I will always be grateful towards my parents.

Reading and especially reading at a young age tremendously boosts your vocabulary skills. The words which a lot of people mug-up using word-lists for GRE and CAT preparations, are already familiar to you since you have read them in one book or the other. Language suddenly is not a constraint but a medium to be leveraged. Think about it, the section which a lot of people fear is the Reading Comprehension (RC), this becomes your forte because of your reading.

Learning is not a pain 
Since you can read faster, there is a chance that you understand things faster as well; Ergo lesser time to study ;-). In fact who knows you might even enjoy it!! (Although I don't guarantee this!)

General Knowledge
The amount of knowledge you pick up when reading through different books/magazines/articles is immense. Don't believe me? Then try this simple exercise ... pick-up a newspaper, any newspaper and just spend 15-20 minutes reading through any random set of articles. If you are not more informed then either you have been reading the daily funnies or the page 3 :-).

It helps you communicate better. Being well read is simply more topics to discuss :-). Ever stuck in a conversation where you have  no idea what the others are talking about? Well that's ignorance. Read and drive away that ignorance!!

Helps in exams/vivas
Often during my engineering vivas and exams, I used to hope for questions which were outside the syllabus. Simply because the question outside the syllabus were from more or less current events. Having done a lot of other reading, this always gave me an edge over other students (who were much better at studies :-D). When it comes to dealing with the unknown, the well read person is at a distinct advantage.

The great thing about reading, is that it's never too late. You might say, that I do not have any exams to give, but reading still comes in handy. Reading helps you be more informed about things which are interested in. Without reading, you cannot write. If you are a creative person or are involved in a creative job, then you have to read. Think of it as one more avenue of getting your inspiration. Your personal muse.

Ahh, and more thing, this is a form of entertainment which is customized for you, the book you read is your choice ... if you like magic - then the Lord of the Rings, satire - then the Inscrutable Americans, sci-fi then - Isaac Asimov or the Dune series, philosophy then - The Fountainhead, medical then - Any Robin Cook, legal - then any John Grisham ... I can go on. So what are you waiting for!?! If you can read through this entire post, then you might as well go to the nearest book store and pick-up any book that holds your fancy!!


All Talk and No Action said...


Your description of how you fell in love with reading was very sweet :)

Made me remember how I began on this journey...I started with old books from my dad's library - believe it or not, it was the earthy scent of the old, worn out pages that had me hooked :)

Then came the library periods in school - once a week we were allowed to borrow books - I almost always begged to borrow 2+ books and promised to return all in time :)

Enid Blytons and Hardy Boys' series offered too much adventure to my young mind and peppered my journey with adventure and enthusiasm.

Thanks for this post !

india unbound said...

Nice post.

I remember how I started reading. As with many kids, even I started with comic strips in news papers. In my case it was a Hindi tabloid (Sanjha Jansatta) with one full page of comic strips. I was around 10-11 at that time. Soon I graduated to sports, news and then op-ed section which still remains my favorite section. I eagerly awaited for my dad in the evening so that I can lay my hands on Sanjha Jansatta (Indian Express Group) and Hindi Mahanagar (founded and edited by Nikhil Wagle of IBN Lokmat). Nikhil and his paper was biased against my favorite political parties but I still liked his paper as there use to be lot to read in it. I read Arun Shourie (my fav columnist ever) for the first time in his paper.

Those were good days. Even tabloids had two op-ed pages. Many may find this unbelievable but even Mid-Day had two op-ed page and one full page for letters to editor, which on some occasion use to occupy two full pages!! Shobha De use to write a daily column for Mid-Day on weekdays and I liked her writing. Mid-Day's tag line "Mid-day is Mumbai" was apt. Mid-Day's anniversary issue (more than 100 pages) was eagerly awaited and some vendors use to sell it in black!! Not sure if that is the case still now as I stopped reading it around 6-7 years back when Ayaz Memon (Mid Day editor for eighteen years) was replaced by Aakar Patel & Bachi Karkaria who in turn killed everything that I liked in the paper. Mid-Day was last month sold to Jaagran Prakashan. Hope something good happens with the paper now.

After newspapers I graduated to news magazines. "India Today" is still my favorite, though I think the quality of journalism has deteriorated. Outlook was just launched when I had started reading magazines and I did not like it much then nor am I a fan now.

My first book was some Ved Prakash Sharma novel (I dont remember the name)and first English book was probably Da Vinci Code and then World is Flat (Thomas Friedman). After that I was hooked to books and am really thankful to my dad for introducing me to reading whcih is one of the best things to have happened to me.

Sorry for such a big comment but the post made me nostalgic.

Anonymous said...

Nice post Prasad. And nicer comments by alltalk and india unbound. I always loved reading news paper as a kid..jansatta..navbharat times..TOI. But was never into books, just comics like chacha chaudhary and champak which my father use to buy for me. Started late with reading novels, first one was sidney's 'nothing last forever' and after that CB books got me into reading and now i always have one book as 'currently reading'. Right now its 'Ouliers' .

All Talk and No Action said...

@allthecrap - nice, it seems jansatta was read by many :)
It was a great paper and I loved reading the comic they had. Outliers is my fave non-fiction... tell me what you thought of the plane crashes chapter

Anonymous said...

Thanks folks!
@Mukta - +1 on the library books at schhol

@indiaunbound - Have to agree with the Mid-day part, I used to read that during my engineering days

nisha said...

This is an excellent thought provoking post.

nisha said...

I am doing something of the same interest and will be taking note on this .Thank