Take that Book on…

July 24, 2020

‘Makeshift bookshelf’, read my friend’s post on Instagram, showing a shelf made out of cardboard boxes stacked to shelve books, garnering a like from me almost instantaneously. Well, anyone who goes through the trouble and creativity for storing books definitely has my respect.

Today’s fast paced life has made it impossible for people to read books, making reading an obsolete pastime. In fact, of the two private libraries in Mangalore one has shut down two years ago for lack of readership. Youngsters hardly read books other than those prescribed by their syllabus.

Reading is not just a pastime but has several benefits. Other than obviously increasing knowledge and expanding vocabulary, its health benefits equal those of walking, drinking coffee and listening to music. Reading has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and even alleviate depression. It strengthens the brain promoting mental health. Reading is an escape into another world, where imagination plays a significant role but the effects are not imaginary.

Various school curricula around the world have reading as an integral part of syllabus. The children are made to read a book and then made to discuss and debate the various characters in the book, give their opinion on the actions of the characters in the book etc. This brings about critical evaluation in children, unlike the Indian system of education where students have to just mug up for marks.

Reading brings out empathy, making oneself aware of the various situations of people universally. There are a variety of books to choose from. One can start with modern illustrations of Shakespeare’s stories, Leo Tolstoy, Charles Dickens etc for their classic literature. One need not confine to fiction and novels alone. One book every Indian at least, should read is ‘My Experiments with Truth’, Gandhiji’s autobiography. There is a reason he is called Mahatma. One feels pained to see him quoted carelessly and haphazardly to suit one’s purpose. Various leaders’ biographies and autobiographies like Mandela’s ‘Long Walk to Freedom’, Swami Vivekananda’s biography, Dr. Abdul Kalam’s autobiography ‘Wings of Fire,’ Anne Frank’s account of the holocaust ‘The Diary of a Young Girl,’ Malala Yousafzai’s ‘I am Malala’ etc are awe inspiring. These are classics which show us how the world we are living in and enjoying for granted actually came to be.

Many of the self =proclaimed moral vigilantes and guardians of culture and religion have hardly read the holy books of their respective religions. When one reads they become more educated and the more educated you are, the more non-violent you become. For people not interested in fiction or other people’s lives, there are various self-help books like Chicken Soup for the Soul (nothing to do with cooking!), The 5 Languages of Love, Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, Rich Dad Poor Dad (not “patha hai mera baap kaun hai”? type), The Power of your Subconscious Mind, Ikigai etc.

For the tech savvy, there are books available for free download on Google Play Books store and Apple’s Ibooks. Most of the classics are freely available on these apps. There are devices made just for reading like Kindle which are kinder on eyes, and e-books can be purchased to read on these apps. Various websites offer books at discounted prices like 99bookscart.com and bookishsanta.com. Books are also available on shopping websites like Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal etc. For borrowing books, various libraries Readers Delight at Light House Hill road in Mangalore offer services, because nothing can replace the comfort of a hardbound book in the hand!

Reading is not only for the young but for everyone. Let’s make reading more likeable by gifting books whenever possible. There are books for every age group and kids can start by reading authors like Eric Carle, Ruskin Bond, Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie, Perry Mason etc. The current pandemic may have bestowed most of us with time at our hands. Let’s use this time to read. Encourage everyone to read at least one book in a lifetime, even domestic help. There are books in every language. If elders find it uninteresting, let them start with their holy book, but let them read. Always encourage reading in kids. It brings about calm and patience in today’s generation which is always glued to a moving screen. So pick up a book and take it on. Happy reading!



By Hanita Pinto
Hanita Pinto has a masters in law from SDM Law College. She has earlier worked in Bengaluru as a legal compliance officer.
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