Reading for wisdom and solace

Flipping through a book is like travelling to a place and living there without physically being there
Reading for wisdom and solace
Representational Photo

Zulkarnain Lateef, 28—a physiotherapist by chance and an avid reader by choice—sits back late in the evening and reads. Reading is more than just knowledge and a hobby for Zulkarnain. It is beyond superficial services for him. “Reading is a part of behavioural modification for me. It helps me to avoid being jaded, cynical and pessimistic” Lateef says with confidence evident on his stubbled face. Not only Lateef, for every passionate reader out there, reading is also a way of life that has been profiting them in ways unthinkable. For some, flipping through is fun and for others, reading is mandatory. Some readers scan for knowledge while others read for a cure. A few bibliomaniacs look for inferring the world of others and some readers look for therapy to find solace. You cannot travel the whole world, so we made books. Flipping through a book is like travelling to a place and living there without physically serving the same.

It is a prominent point that reading, in the long run, gives you priceless privileges. When a person makes reading a habit, it gives the wisdom of varied subjects, demographics, cultures, geographies and so on. This insight comes in handy when we communicate and discuss. “I have used the knowledge, awareness and content out of reading to strengthen my speaking,” says Mohit, an entertainment speaker and anchor. “Whenever, I speak, I recall material read from books and this makes me ready to speak” he adds with a smile on his face. This makes you an important individual. You are valued for your reasoning and reading. In turn, you evolve as a good speaker, an intelligent debater and an exceptional communicator.

In popular parlance, reading books, articles and stories are useful for the development of general awareness and proficiency. It helps in comprehending the language. It nurtures our vocabulary and amplifies our syntax and semantics. It coats our communication skills. It hones our sense of ingenuity and imagination. “I have prospered a lot from reading. I’ve learned new subjects” says Inam, business editor of the weekly magazine Business Kashmir. “Reading habit has developed my vocabulary, enriched my communication skills, especially my writing and editing skills” he adds. This fact is endorsed by all. The first and foremost advantage that anybody can think of is an enhancement in knowledge and vocabulary. “Reading helps to expand vocabulary and makes us knowledgeable” Mohit adds.

Lateef points out, while enlisting the benefits of reading, “It improves the communication capacities and also assists in dealing with societal affairs more clinically” he adds while raising his eyebrows in emphasis. This, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. During writing this feature story, I came across such diverse standpoints on reading that my mind opened up to so many possibilities. Talking to readers widens your thoughts and takes you on a ride to a myriad of varying worlds. Almost all readers concede to the certainty that reading reduces their burden. Reading gives them pleasure. Reading boosts imagination and creativity. “When I read at least a few pages in the evening,” Lateef says with satisfaction “I go to bed with a feeling that my day is made.” This is the power of Bibliotherapy.

Reading opens up the realm of others in front of your eyes. Unlike a movie—where the director wants the viewers to look at the perspective he wants us to see—a book lets the readers judge and explore. Kishore Kumar Thampi, 40, a banker while talking to the author presents his views supporting the above-mentioned facts. “It (reading) widens my imagination. Unlike a movie—where the whole frame is presented to you—a book titillates you to run riot with your imagination” he says. In a world full of biases and judgements, reading tends to strike a balance in one’s thought process. It teaches us to consider others’ perspectives and meanings. “Reading balances me in many ways” Kishore continues, “it enhances my thinking prowess and my ability to take a righteous decision.” The benefits and impact of reading over the perspectives of people are amazing. Reading brings the human out of a reader. Keeping all the differences aside, when a reader reads, he looks at the others’ philosophies and essences. Their problems and pains. Majid, a features editor and writer, while responding to how reading benefits him, says, “Reading humanises me; makes me empathetic of the human condition of other people, their stories and culture.” Majid enlightens us towards a substantial but often overlooked virtue of reading. Superficially, we do not think on these lines. This concept is far from conventional comprehension. “Apart from giving us comfort and information” Majid continues “reading helps us understand the civilization better.” Reading takes us on a journey undergone by others. For the time being, we understand their viewpoints, agonies and issues. Malorie Blackman, a British writer who held the position of Children’s Laureate from 2013 to 2015, says, “Reading is an exercise in empathy; an exercise in walking in someone else’s shoes for a while.”

Reading is a great route to bring optimistic upheavals in oneself. And these transformations are for the better. When we go on reading, we understand so many people. We learn new lessons, lessons of life. We become civilised and learn etiquettes from books. Over time, readers thrive in their persona. With positivity, clarity, empathy and compassion. On this, Majid shares his views, “When you read something, a book, for example, you ain’t the same person after reading it; you’re changed, for the better.”

During this story, we asked our interviewees how to develop the habit of reading. We got numerous pondering answers and views. In addition to recommendations like reading daily and reading from childhood, we got certain answers worth mentioning. “For a beginner, the reading time should be between 15 and 20 minutes daily. Start from reading newspaper articles or read an easy or interesting book” Zulkarnain advises new readers. He goes on to add, “The reader should increase the duration of reading with time.” Likewise, in addition to the emphasis on reading daily, Inam suggests skimming different content including fiction. “Fiction must be part of the daily reading routine,” he tells. Malorie Blackman emphasises the development of the habit of constant reading saying, “The person who doesn’t read when he can is no different than the person who can’t read at all.” Wise people are well-read. They have advised reading. We should impel our youth to read publications, stories and articles instead of lingering on to social media and smartphones. Internet is consuming our life like blood-thirsty beasts. If we give good habits to our children at an early age, they would thank us later. Put your wards to study. Read along with them. Readout stories to them. Kishore recalls how he began reading, “My brother took me to a library one day” he scratches his brain and goes on “and started reading a book by Ludlum and then and there the seeds were sown.” Kishore’s elder brother inspired him to read books. Today, Kishore is thankful to his brother. With a smile on his face, he adds, “I wanted to be like my brother and read that voluminous hardbound treasure.”

Postscript: The age-old words of wisdom that books are the best friends still hold meaning. Books give you a lot and ask for nothing in return except some interest and time. Invest in books and reading. Decorate your brain with the jewels of study. Put on your personality a new sheen. Let’s conclude with the words of Anna Mary Quindlen, an American author and a Pulitzer Prize winner: “Books are the plane and the train and the road. They’re the destination and the journey. They are home.”

(ABRAR UL MUSTAFA is Manager Scale-II in the middle management of a reputed PSU. The views are personal.)

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