Reading: A Puissant Art

Now do you know what I love as a gift? A book, of course! Reading and writing are two things in which I mostly employ myself, apart from chores and watching series/movies. As far as writing goes, I often make a list of articles and essays that I am supposed to write, but somehow my procrastination does not allow me to bring myself to do it.

But reading, on the other hand, is quite satisfying and redeeming. While writing can be a gruelling task that is difficult to motivate yourself to complete, reading is more relaxing and rewarding. You learn a lot along the way without putting in much effort. You don’t have to put ideas down on paper; the novelist will put ideas into your head! Most of the time, reading can be all profit and no loss.

When you have nothing to occupy your mind with, reading provides a brilliant substitute. You feel like, after all, you have something to do. And after reading, you feel that your time didn’t go to waste; at least you learned something — something about people, their opinions, different places, different ways of living, etc. You can imagine yourself in places you’ve never been or will never go.You learn about different people and their circumstances from new locales, new stories. Whether you read poetry, fiction, or nonfiction, you learn something about the culture, history, and traditions of the place to which the author belongs. You become aware of the debates or issues prevalent in the author’s state or society.

Books are a window into communities and the behaviours of different kinds of people/characters. You may even learn more about your own personality type if you come to identify with any character in the novel. I personally think I identified with the character of Jo March from Little Women (1868). And I learned a lot from my reading of the novel Refugee (2017)—I was able to breeze through the plight of refugees very closely and could gauge the intensity of the crisis despite being miles away from it.

Even when you are not going on a vacation, you can visit places from the comfort of your bedroom! I find satisfaction enough in that. That’s why I wrote the poem “Study of a Land I’ve Never Known”, recording my visualisation of England based on my reading of English literature. I feel like there has been an enhancement in my knowledge. I feel updated about what’s going on around the world by reading articles, research papers, newsletters, essays, news pieces, etc. While of course social media does that too. But that’s all there is to it. It does not count as reading and is not as gratifying.

I developed reading as a hobby in 8th grade when I felt lonely in a school that I had just been admitted to. I had no new friends there, and reading came as a refuge. “A book is our best friend that has no complaints, no demands”—from a Bollywood movie, Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, that I very well remember. And the first novels that I read were by Enid Blyton and R. L. Stine. And those Enid Blyton books are very special to me, being the very first novels bought by me in 4th or 5th grade as part of my summer vacation reading task, at the behest of my school (the very first school that I went to and with which I’ve cherished memories attached). And even today, I have those books, preserved and secured!

A book is our best friend that has no complaints, no demands.

The Wordsridge Newsletter, which I started on Substack, has also been a major factor in expanding my reading habit since I now read articles and essays floating around on the internet to be able to recommend something and share those gems with my readers. And I am enjoying it. At least I don’t have to go around meandering and depressing myself with futile thoughts when I could fill my vacant time with some concrete readings.

Hence, if you are elderly, alone, or at leisure, I’d suggest you read, which is better than watching series/movies which is only entertainment and no learning, while reading is both. The act of reading has a few more additives, too. It helps with vocabulary building. I have myself made a personal dictionary by writing down new and useful words that I come across while reading novels. Reading helps you familiarise yourself with new words and then use those words to enhance your own speech and writing.

The art of reading is not only a way of enhancing reading skills; in fact, reading improves fluency too. You learn to pronounce new and intricate words. Hence, a good practise to speak English.

The lasting part of reading is that going through so many texts and ideas from so many people gives you a wisdom of your own and thoughtful sayings or quotes that stay with you and make you go back and ponder over them for a while. It’s a refreshing experience, and I especially like nosing in the text for such delightful comments, arguments, dialogues, or thoughts that may be hovering over that sea of words waiting to be discovered.

I love reading in every sense of the word, and you will too if you pick up the right book. And I would recommend that you choose a book from the genre that captivates you the most, or that you are most familiar with. Choosing a book on this basis really works out well. I wish you well in starting your own reading journey. Happy reading!

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Anam Tariq
Anam Tariq is a poet and writer with an MA in English from Aligarh Muslim University and a poetry collection A Leaf upon a Book (Leadstart, 2022) to her name. She runs The Wordsridge Newsletter on Substack and writes for Writers’ Cafeteria, and others. She is also a poetry and prose reader at Culinary Origami Journal. Anam’s poems appear in The Punch Magazine, The Alipore Post, The Chakkar, Swim Press, Spill Words, Verse of Silence, coalitionworks, LiveWire and elsewhere. In her free time Anam loves immersing herself in books. Website: www.anamtariq.in.

7 COMMENTS

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