Hello, Books

The most common extra-curricular activity on any resume is reading, followed by travelling. I don’t have it on my resume. I perhaps had it when I applied for my first job, I don’t remember now.

I started reading at least fourteen books in the last six months, not finishing even one. I felt like Ishaan Awasthi of Taare Zameen Par, every time I started reading a book. The letters danced on the page and words seemed to have a mind of their own and made meanings they weren’t supposed to. I hardly ever crossed page 16 of any book.

I am often amazed by people’s ability to remember words, phrases and sentences in a book. They sometimes make me feel I have inferior memory.

What we Strive For

I confided in a friend after long that I was unable to read a book. He said he understood. He said you stick by it, even if the words continued tap-dancing on the thin paper. It doesn’t matter if they do not make meaning. Keep reading and do not watch the dance; they will be disciplined soon and start making meaning as they were intended to. I promised to take his advice.

The world consists of two types of readers, I think. Those that pay attention to every word and its place and purpose in the book. The other who wring out, only the essence of the message.

Yet, the tandav distracted me and progress beyond page 16 was impossible. I wondered if I was losing it. Were my neurons achieving nirvana? I seem to have the unique ability of reading every word on the page, while my mind is densely occupied with terribly tangential thoughts. An amazingly useless ability, I thought to myself.

There is a destiny concept associated with all that comes into your life. Even books. They say it happens when the time is right.

Yesterday, however, was very different. I finished reading a book back to back. I was pleased on two accounts. One, that I can still read a full book and the other that the book made much sense in its messaging.

They are quiet and still now. They are done with the mischief. The words have found their place and purpose on the pages they reside. They are happy to talk of what they were supposed to. They are happy for me to hold them, read them.

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23 thoughts on “Hello, Books

  1. I love your writing.

    I hope the ‘tandav’ is romantic fiction!

    Regarding the two types of readers: I had thought the same many years back. However, later on I realized that in today’s world, it pays to be a reader of both types. There is some stuff I read where I can ruminate on single words or sentences for hours or days. But professionally, I cannot afford that!

    I don’t believe in the destiny concept with books. Nice way to procrastinate, mystify, theologize, or romanticize, but in reality, there’s no passing the buck. I am responsible for what I read and do not read. Period. πŸ™‚

    Btw, apologies for the lengthy comment and congratulations on completing that book. πŸ™‚

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    • Mahendra, thank you. The tandav itself was romantic, not the book, however. πŸ™‚ I do understand when you say a reader has to be of both types. Sometimes, they interfere, however.

      The destiny thing, nowadays, is overdone and commercialised. I think once upon a time it would have some significance, when action guided pretty much the entire direction in life. In this era, I think it has become an excuse, I agree.

      Please do not apologise for the lengthy comments. In any case a comment is as good as its intent and content. To be able to respond clearly, you have to use as many words as you have to use.

      Thank you and keep coming! πŸ™‚

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      • I did not say a reader has to be of both types, I said it pays to be a reader of both types.

        I must say I’ve had some success with dealing with these two different reading styles.

        What am I reading this book for? One must answer this question truthfully, honestly and comprehensively, to choose the appropriate reading style for the book. One is then able to adapt one’s reading style for that particular book.

        I’m not sure I understand you when you talk about destiny being commercialized and when action guiding the direction of life. I apologize but I was not able to understand you.

        I don’t think I’ve said it before, so here goes: You’re one of the best additions to my blogroll, and I’ve fallen in love with your sensitivity. Your photographs – the eye of the photographer that is more revealing than the photogapher itself – is extremely enticing for a person like me. I’m enjoying your blog very much, so thaks for the sensitivity in your writing, your photography, your blog, everything…

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        • Wow! A Conversation!!!

          I haven’t had this on any of my blogs for a while now. Thank ye!

          Mea culpa. You did, indeed say it pays to be a reader of both types. Still, I feel a personality and conditioning interfere and may not make it very easy to be able to easily switch the ways. It is not impossible, as you have rightly explained (you are able to do it), but many may find it difficult.

          The destiny thing, “the right time” for a book, is what I was referring to. There is too much of commercial spiritualism in the world nowadays and this thing about “the right time” is overdone. People apply it to almost everything (i.e. when things don’t happen – the time has not come)

          And for the last bit, a heartfelt thank you! Truly!

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      • Did not understand this either: “I think once upon a time it would have some significance, when action guided pretty much the entire direction in life.”

        When does action NOT guide our direction in life? Maybe I’m missing something you’re trying to say. Forgive me.

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    • If I go by the way you read blogs, I would say you are a thorough reader. Haven’t seen you pick up the essence and respond. You take time, absorb, relate with your own experience before responding. That takes some effort. The first type?

      You’d know better. πŸ™‚

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  2. Am in still in that phase of unable to complete books 😦
    and totally agree with “I am often amazed by people’s ability to remember words, phrases and sentences in a book. They sometimes make me feel I have inferior memory.”

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  3. this reminds me of a ‘how to read fast’ book…

    I guess it has to be a mix of both, like Mahendra said..

    it said you must see a group of words at a time to read fast. it also stressed on the essence bit more than singling out different words. But in doing so, i feel i will do injustice to the author.

    also, how fast you read also depends on who, what and why you are reading. There are some authors who do not allow rest till you finish. Then there are some which you like and want to read, but haveto break away in between.. take some rest, swallow the melancholy and mumble, and then start reading again… Pamuk, Orwell fall in this category.

    Most of the books I have given up half way are those when i a book that i thought i had to read, than actually wanting to read it.

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    • Gauri, there are several software tools these days that help you improve your “speed reading”. In the 90s, there used to be a plethora of books regarding Speed Reading. You are perfectly right when you say that it all depends on who, what, and why you’re reading.

      In my comment, I was trying to impress the fact that it is better for a reader to adapt his/her style of reading to what is being read. I find Atul’s post confessing that he is never able to read fast, which I think is a handicap, especially if letters are dancing in his vision while reading! That’s why I hoped it is fiction.

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      • Hmmm. I have been reading the post for a while now. Not sure where I confessed I cannot read fast. Gauri seems to have caught on to that too. I guess the tandav and TZP references were more in relation to the lack of concentration and focus…like an unquiet mind πŸ™‚

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    • I have done that often @ looking at an entire paragraph, grasping the meaning (and context) and moving forward. That’s where, those that remember each word, irritate me. It’s like photographers speaking of lenses and cameras more than photographs. (my profile tag in Flickr :D)

      Always the struggle of journey vs. destination (take in the book or finish the book?)

      πŸ™‚

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  4. I blv there’s a time for every book…books that i left halfway years back are ones that make so much sense to me when i read them today. Also, I wonder if there’s anythinng like ‘reading patience’. ‘Cos no matter how interesting the text, i cannot read it beyond a certain limit.

    Like wine, you need to develop a taste for reading. But once you begin to experience the joys of reading, nothing can compare to it.

    On that note, i’m reminded i need to catch up on a lot of books πŸ™‚

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    • I think the phrase “right time for a book” is relevant only when there is (or there is not) a context. Take “The Zahir” for example. I am sure a teen would like the book, but it would make much more sense to someone who has been in (and out) of love.

      The “right time” context as a subject of celestial conspiracy is a bit difficult to digest, as we have been discussing upstairs.

      One of the reason this particular book is notable that I had seemed to have “lost” the reading habit in the last six months. And by finishing the book, I have broke the jinx of “not being able to finish a book”

      πŸ™‚

      PS: Are you on goodreads.com?

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  5. Pingback: Remains of the Day: 002 « Gaizabonts
  6. Mea culpa

    Been away for so long 😦

    Loved the post and the ensuing convo.

    In fac inspired to blog about my take on this πŸ™‚

    Watch out, you roused the sleeping monster!

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    • Amazing convo, isn’t it? Been a while since this happened. But you should have known, I am, indeed, the unofficial-sleeping-monster-rouser at WordPress! πŸ˜€

      Looking forward to the making of your taking on this!

      Like

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