On reading

Somewhere towards the end of the year I found myself slipping down the tunnel that was fast turning me into the reluctant book-shirker. Reluctant because I wasn’t happy doing it, and yet I was shirking the books in favour of work on my hands. I started off the year with incredible resolve to bring my reading habit back on track and even though in the end, I did way better than I imagined I would, and I fast surpassed the list I had made for myself, somehow over the weeks of incessant activity, distraction and preoccupation of the last few months of the year, I lost it.

I am not the kind of person who can read in the empty pockets of time between things. I wish I was, because I have several such pockets. What I don’t have are the endless hours to spare. Because I am the sort of reader that craves lengthy hours spent in the company of a book. I relish lazy afternoon reading, I love a book that keeps me up at night, and I am the sort of person that can abandon all plans if a really good book comes along, because I am willing to dedicate entire days, weekends and everything in between to it.

This year, I want to treat my reading better. Make time for it, rather than try and fit it into empty moments. Have a vague plan, run with it, rather than be  bound by a list. And just do it, rather than wait for it to happen.

I have a few pending titles from my ever-expanding list for 2013. And I’ve always closely stalked the reading reccos that MM and The Bride make, so I am usually never the person asking what shall I read now?” I also stopped buying books at the start of last year, in an attempt to get reading the ones I have piled up over the years. Let it be known that I am something of a hoarder and am well-stocked and good to go for a while. As if that wasn’t enough, MinCat gave me her massive collection of ebooks too! And then I have my eye on this list, which seemed like a good thing to try and knock off in my 30s, seeing as how I have read an abysmal six titles in my 20s. I’m turning the big 3-oh in May, so now seems like a good time to start, no?

So I’m going to resume writing about books I’ve read that make me want to say something. I haven’t done that in a long time, because honestly it was hard enough finding time to finish a book, writing about it was asking for a bit much.

There are days when I want to just stop doing things — waiting editors, hungry husband, antsy clients be damned! — and just hit pause, sit down, read. It’s at times like those that I wish I had never let go of the habit. Because I wouldn’t have to cultivate it all over again. On days when I crave going back to being the book-guzzler I was while growing up, before rubbish like boys, alcohol and college began to take precedence over all else, I think of the ever-growing list in that little text edit file, and I look at my life, and quickly realise it is entirely possible now, more than it has ever been before. Like I said, I just need to treat reading with a little more respect. Make time and do it. Because I do love a good book, I prefer to turn pages than flick channels and even now, I pick up a book over everything else, on a vacant day. I never was one of those bookworms that was never spotted without a book, but the conscious reading I invested my time in over the last year has kindled a really deep need to make it a part of my life again. So maybe I am just a late bloomer.

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13 thoughts on “On reading

  1. R

    I could have written this post. I was not a bookworm but I always chose books over other options. And then somewhere along the way, I let go of the habit. The past 4-5 years have been a conscious effort in regaining this, a little at a time. This year has been good to me so far – I finished two non- fiction books (slim volumes) and picked up a book I had deserted a year ago (The Private lives of Pippa Lee), after seeing MM’s reco and I am glad I did. It was fabulous and my reading bug has bitten me again. I am now crying through 2 heartbreaking books (Book Thief and Beloved. And yes, this is the first Toni Morrison I am reading) and 1 whose genre I am yet to determine (Even cowgirls get the blues – thanks, Bride!) and it’s slow but steady progress.

    1. Private Lives is on my list, and when I read MM’s recco I looked it up on flipkart, but abstained from buying (read post to know about the self-imposed rule).. and now you’ve told me about the movie so I better get to the book soon. I need a good book to get me back on track.

      In the last 3-4 months, I’ve started and abandoned Alchemy of Desire, The Vine of Desire (DO NOT ask me about this uncanny coincidence and desire binge I was on), A food writing book, Serious Men and Family Matters. IN an attempt to kickstart the habit I picked up two books at the airport, and one of them was SUPERBLY silly and the other one will be started tonight :)

  2. These days I too tend to sneak in writing into the empty moments. I feel I have so much on my plate to sit and properly enjoy a book. And usually I wait to finish all my unread books before buying others, but lately I just can’t resist! I think a better salary than the one I had in my old job might have something to do with that, haha.

  3. The luxury of sitting with a book for hours on end is beyond me now. Slivers of time are all I have but I manage a LOT of reading that way.

    Ooh thanks for the reminder on Pippa Lee. That 65 books is an amazing list. Nothing on that list I’ve read so far was a complete loser and some were out and out brilliant. I’m lucky to have library access so can get a hold of most of them at zero cost. However, some are shockingly unavailable in the library system, boo!

    1. I have to learn to make do with the slivers I have.. Thats part of the “making time” exercise :) Ive been eyeing the list after reading so many good reviews you wrote. Im reading yet another food memoir right now and the next one I pick is a toss up between Pippa Lee and Cowgirls. Humm.

  4. I remember the day how I started reading a book in the early morning hours and didn’t go to college that day to finish it off.. Now I just cannot do it any more. Its gone, the habit. And there is a void. I really hope to do some reading this year. But as of yet nothing has happened in that direction. Finally I guess it is time to put an effort to read which was actually so spontaneous few years back.. hope to get back into the groove..and good luck to you too..

  5. I can’t say I’ve ever not been without a book, but occasionally, there’s a busy span of time which results in less than two books a week. Which then creates a feeeling of inertia that takes some time to overcome and get back to speed. So I guess I can sort of relate (?).

    The thing I find helps is to re-read a favourite book. Because you know the story and probably even the lines, and you speed through it, all the while reminding yourself of why books can be awesome and why reading them thrills you so much. And when it’s done, you’re so buzzed that you need another book to keep you on that high. And that’s how you stay up there.

    1. That inertia and loss of speed is EXACTLY what I’m talking about. And your suggestion seems very sensible, and doable.. Thank you! I’m going to try that the next time. I tried to squeeze in a light brainless read to achieve the same thing — speed through it and feel motivated again — but it was just that, brainless :-/

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