By Samrudhi Khanna
Edited by Liz Maria Kuriakose, Associate Editor, The Indian Economist
For as long as I can remember, I have preferred the company of a book as against the company of humans. From childhood, to adolescence, to teenage and now in adulthood; it is the only thing in my personality that has remained consistent. In fact, it has only intensified because till date I don’t have any account on even a single social networking website. I consider it too unreal and tedious to maintain and keep the accounts up to date and that is the reason that I have just one email and that too because it is unavoidable. I am past being offended by the surprise, or in many cases shock that people express on my social habits – or lack of it. It is amusing to see the wide eyes, agape mouths and puzzled expressions on the faces of many people I come across and answer in negative when asked for my Facebook ID.
As amusing as I find these reactions, there is also an undercurrent of sadness that I feel. As an avid reader and literature loyalist, it is very disheartening to see that the age old hobbies of reading and having healthy debates about the material read are no longer the preferred choice – actually they are not in the running at all! For centuries now reading has single handedly been the means of keeping people not just educated but even entertained. It was the only acceptable pastime enjoyed by all, irrespective of caste and creed. Reading was an activity that even a king indulged in enthusiastically and so did a prisoner in the moments before his execution. Holy books, religious texts, revolutionary books, tragedies, romances, comedies – the world of literature has it all. There is so much to know, so much to learn that I think if I would ever be content with how much I have read. Anyone who knows me always expresses surprise over this and it has been a record unbroken that every single acquaintance of mine are not even aware about authors like Jane Austen and Charles Dickens or more recent ones like Jeffrey Archer and Sidney Sheldon. These authors have contributed much in terms of literature to the world and not being aware of them, let alone reading their works goes miles to prove how the value of reading literature has depreciated in the recent times.
I admit that the technology and science has not only made life easy but has also invented many new means to entertain your lives but isn’t it important that we better our minds by inculcating reading habits in ourselves – it is after all proven by the same scientists that have invented so many distractions for us that reading can improve brain connectivity and function. Except for these trivial excuses, it is mandatory for us to remember that there is supposed to be some appeal to this activity considering that many pieces of literature date centuries back and have been read and debated over by generations. There are various pleasures to reading and we just need to rediscover them. It is almost funny how the prices of books are so high as if it is a rare commodity or some luxury.
This habit of reading literature should be promoted from a very young age by both parents and the teachers. Schools should conduct periodical discussions on the books read. In fact, we can even use internet to our benefit in this case and encourage students to participate in writing or summarizing a book through blogs or other media. It is a habit which will sustain only if we try to inculcate it in the very early stages of life. We are supposed to pass on the message that reading is not a task but indeed a pleasure that takes you to a world you can call your own without the interference of any external entity. Jane Austen, the famous British novelist and my favorite author, has written something similar in her finest creation – Pride and Prejudice. Even though the following was considered to be an insincere praise of reading in the story by a character named Caroline Bingley, it actually explains a lot about Jane Austen’s admiration for the activity:
“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book! – When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”
Samrudhi is pursuing Financial Markets at Narsee Monjee College of Commerce and Economics in Mumbai. Besides financial markets, her interests are writing, literature and dancing. Reading is second nature to her – classis literature, Austen, Archer, Bronte sisters and Sheldon are her loyal friends! Writing is another thing she takes great pleasure in and economics, current affairs, polictics are her favorite topics. Having a complete aversion to all types of social networking mediums, you can get in touch with her only through her email: [email protected]!