Reading, The Best Gift That You Can Give Yourself

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”

Charles W Eliot

During the summer vacation in my childhood, my parents would take my brother and I to our grandparents’ house. This journey was usually around 5 hours by road. One of my favorite things to do was to grab a comic book, Tinkle or The Witty Stories of Akbar-Birbal or Chacha Chaudhary series or Champak. I loved reading these. For the child that I was, my folks would be surprised that I would finish reading the entire book by the time we reached. Those are my earliest memories of habitual reading, pretty nostalgic actually.

I’m amazed by the lives of people who have made a significant contribution to humanity. Elon Musk is one of them. Apart from the major and obvious reasons why I adore him, another reason is that he, like me, loves to read books. He is known to pick up books from his colleagues’ tables without their knowledge and returning them after he’s read them. Why does this person with super intelligence and miraculous intuition, have to read so many books in the first place? Why, but obviously, he knows that there is enough out there in the world which one cannot possibly know in one life. So books are the pathway to know people, their thought processes of the extraordinary people, the machinations of the seen and the unseen world and so much more. On the same lines, take any influential personality – Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Late APJ Abdul Kalam, Mark Zuckerberg, Barack Obama and several others. If there is one thing that is common among all of them, it is this – they all love to read. And read they do!

It is quite a delight to see the era of book clubs, in personal lives, as well as in organizations. They believe that being intelligent in one field does not make you adept at everything else life has to offer. So even tech guys read novels and travelogues, mystical narratives and mysteries of the dark, for who knows from where the next idea strikes or you find a solution to a long standing problem bothering you. 

So what do you read everyday?
  • Newspapers, and more than one for sure
  • Magazines- business, politics, sports, automobiles, interiors, spiritual
  • Brochures, catalogues of products and services
  • Blogs written by people who go deep into their areas of passion
  • Books- on various genres- the rom coms, novels, murder mysteries, sci-fi, autobiographies, biographies, business success stories
  • Tech manuals, investor reports, survey reports

Oh! So you mean we ought to read all of this? Yes. As much as we can. Being selective about genres can limit your sources of knowledge. Dabble in as many as possible. At least you will know which ones you enjoy and which you don’t.

Reading is not as easy as watching a film or a web series, agreed, but it is much more enjoyable nonetheless, because it forces you to conjure up visuals of your own. That’s why many of us enjoyed the Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter better in book form than the films, though the latter were also equally good in their own medium. Take the case of the Dan Brown series or the Fault in our Stars, the jury’s still out on which of the mediums made the most impact. 

But Why read?
  • If reading is tedious task for you and you’d prefer watching a movie any day, you better not be in careers that require out of the box thinking and creative juices flowing, which are, far and few. Books allow you a peep into the minds of people whom you may never meet in your life. Some have even been dead for hundreds of years.
  • Reading keeps you abreast with the current trends and tastes of people of all ages. What are they into? How does that impact your business and life, or both?
  • Reading allows you with tools that are great conversation starters. If you share similar interests or have read common books, you can converse for hours. A few years ago, Yuval Noah Harriri’sSapiens, did that with good effect. Everyone you met was talking about it. So if you hadn’t read it already, you would be left staring at the lot.
  • Reading helps you connect the dots. You are better able to grasp complex situations. You train your mind to spot similarities and differences, to find the odd thing out, to suspect and doubt when necessary. Comprehension is not an easy skill to master, and is one that comes in handy even when you’re amidst a meeting or negotiating a contract.
  • People who read regularly are, to a large extent, saved from Alzheimer’s and dementia, mainly because constant stimulation to the brain with new and interesting information gives it challenging work. An active brain stays active for long
  • People who are well read, are better able to navigate life’s challenges because they have learnt life’s lessons, not always from own experience, but from those of other people in the books.
  • Readers are familiar with a rich vocabulary and can use accurate words to express their feelings. In an era of communication skills dominating the business world, this comes in handy
  • If you’ve started young (and better inculcate this habit in your kids), you would have easily devoured a good number of books by the time you’re at your job. So you retrieve an interesting anecdote in your speech, add a dash of humor from a reputed author in your conversations or quote from memory long passages whenever needed. It adds much glamour to your clout at parties, official engagements and public appearances.

Start with small books and graduate to bigger ones. Volume of the book never matters. All of Paulo Coelho’s books average around 250 pages but are packed with allegorical stuff. Make notes of interesting passages. Keep a summary of every book you’ve read.

We make all sorts of excuses for not being able to read as much as we’d like to. But reading is an activity which you can easily squeeze in whenever possible. Especially if you’re a frequent traveler, on the Trans-atlantic flights or more, you can very well devour one small book in a flight with ease. And a large part of it gets completed at the airport itself.

Pack a book whenever you travel. Read your favorite book as you commute on the train, in a car or a bus. Read as many pages a day as possible.

Make it a habit to read a few pages before you go to bed. That way, you end up completing another book in a few days. Some people dabble with multiple books at once while some love to finish one at a time. To pass time, to avoid talking to intruders, to gain knowledge, to learn more, to experience the fascinating worlds painted by the authors, there’s nothing quite like a book.

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