Friday, September 18, 2009

The Joy of Reading

I have always been interested in reading books; but till some time back there was one small difference between me and the other book lovers – I was interested in the book only till I started reading it. After that, it seemed incredibly boring and I struggled to finish it. In short, I found no joy in reading books.

I picked up books which I thought would interest me – like mystery novels, science fictions etc. In fact, I also searched the top 100 books of the century through internet to find some good ones. One of the first books which I seriously started reading was, The silence of the lambs (which was one of the Google results). The book had around 250 pages – it took me almost 10 days to complete the first 120. The second half of the book was more interesting, though, and I finished it quickly; but I still did not find any “joy” in reading the book. If at all, I was “relieved”. (I still don’t know why I even tried reading books; why I was so desperate to read and “enjoy” the book, even though I did not like one).

Two months back I joined an online library (again, I don’t know why) and borrowed a book, India after Gandhi, authored by Ramchandra Guha – the remarkable intellectual from India. When the person from the library delivered the book, I was almost embarrassed. The book had 900 pages and was at least 5 times the size of any book which I had even attempted to read. Since he had come all the way to my office, I found it hard to send him back. I took the book and thought of returning it the very next week.

While at my house, I started reading the prologue – just did not feel like returning the book without reading even a single page. I was surprisingly refreshing. It talked about how different India is from the other nations of the world and how very few non-Indians actually believed India will stay united even until 10 years after independence. I felt a sense of pride and started reading the first chapter. The chapter ended with the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. I casually looked at my watch. One hour!!! It was one hour since I started reading? It easily beat my previous record of continuous reading – by 59 minutes. As I read the further chapters, I got sucked into the book and perhaps for the very first time I did not care how many pages I had read and how many were left. I just read and if I may use the word – enjoyed. After finishing the book, again for the very first time, I was a bit sad. Not happy, not even relieved to have finished a 900 page book, but sad. Since then I have read a few more books including The Wings of Fire and Alchemist and I must say I certainly have experienced joy while reading them.

I am a new entrant to the readers club, but I think to experience joy while reading, the choice of the book is very important. I may not enjoy reading a book which my friend enjoys and vice versa. In past, perhaps my choices were incorrect and hence I did not enjoy reading. Now that I have tasted blood, hopefully I will continue hunting the right prey and keep satisfying my thirst!