Is it the last century for books? 

By Ania Perveen

Jhumpa Lahiri in her flagship novel namely The Namesake writes, ‘’That is the best thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.’’ Books can entail radical change in one’s life insofar as books are taken as elixir for life. When reading and flipping through a book one gets a gratuitous opportunity to visit all sorts of great and resplendent places, meet with sapient minds, and share feelings with people you have never met. When a book, particularly fiction, makes you cry, it is a bit strange. I don’t mean strange by any intellectual or moral sense but by sheer emotional sense. For example you cry and perhaps sob for someone who has no physical existence but shares with you mutual feelings. You laugh over someone’s joke whose jokes have no cultural relation with you, but despite that, it has something mysterious that makes you laugh.  Perhaps books are our greatest friends; they make us cry, laugh and feel things differently but will never inquire about the authenticity of laughter, tears or feeling. But unfortunately we have cut our umbilical cord with books. We should not cut it, it would look perfidious and untrustworthy. Books need to be kept in lap, caressed, and then kissed like something diametrically sacred and pristine. What do we have in this treacherous world, except books?

I was in 8th standard when mushrooming clouds dispersed over my mind and tiny beams of wisdom and enlightenment began to permeate my mind. This was the precious time  when I was wrestling with infinite thoughts which were popping in my mind just like gas bubbles in a glass brimful of water which spring up in it. These energetic bubbles in glass were very similar to my invisible thoughts in my mind searching in haste for a way to get shaped into writing on a blank page.

I started to write, gave wings to my mind to fly far, so far, to at last get my thoughts expressed. Once, somewhere, I read something catchy about writing and my mind luckily succeeded in imbibing that sentence in it. The sentence was that you must stay drunk on writing so that reality cannot destroy you. Down this tormenting and hasty world I only find peace giving wings to my thoughts and portray them in the form of writing.

Lately one of my friends suggested to me a book to go through and asked me to write a review of it. I went through each and every word fastidiously and diligently all but two times. I did this because this was my first review and it was going to be published in a newspaper. As this was going to be my first published review, therefore, I worked on it tirelessly, and fortunately the review got published. My brother was so glad for me. He has a page on Facebook where he posts sometimes memes which people like and share quite well, he also shares political viewpoints as well.

In that joy he posted my review there. Poor me, I was expecting huge applause and encouraging comments but I got only a few comments. This was not a discouraging or heart-wrenching moment for me but a thought-provoking one. There is another work which I along with my two friends did. We made an endeavor to create a space on social media platforms to let people read some soul-soothing and tranquillizing thoughts. To embellish our words and thoughts with calmness and serenity, we worked for days and weeks on end. But unfortunately we got the same frigid reaction.

Thanks to my page which worked as a social experiment and gave me the results which I was expecting. Such a cold attitude cannot freeze our thoughts but, however, the concerning point here is that why people are not reading? Why is the habit of reading petering out and evaporating from our society just like the hot waves over the surface of water in a sweltering summer.

J.K Rowling, an eminent and paid British author who wrote the famous harry potter books once said, ‘I do believe something very magical happens when you read a good book.’’ Books are more often than not considered the most honest friend which holds your hand on a beautiful journey, the destiny of enlightenment and peace. James Janice has written a wonderful poem on the importance of the book which can express my thoughts more exquisitely.

I’ve traveled the world twice over,

Met the famous; saints and sinners,

Poets and artists, kings and queens,

Old stars and hopeful beginners,

I’ve been where no-one’s been before,

Learned secrets from writers and cooks

All with one library ticket

To the wonderful world of books.”

But unfortunately people have given up the habit of reading books. Now books are considered a boredom. Sitting on a chair before a window looking over to some trees and river through which beams of light touch the delightful surface of the book, lights up our inner soul. But people are not interested in these things nowadays. This reflected light puts the curtain of brightness on the reader’s face. The grandeur and calmness of this evanescent moment is inexplicable. You are flying high up so high with the wings of knowledge, intellect, and sagacity that you cannot explain that in words.

Let’s dive into the enormous benefits of reading books. Firstly, any kind of reading provides stimulation to our brains, but different experiences with varying benefits. Stanford university researchers have discovered that close literary reading gives our brain a workout in multiple complex functions. Moreover, once you dive in a good book, forgetting even your ownself, you are enriching yourself with experiences which pour peace into your soul.

Helping the brain in its development in different ways, reading can magnify our thinking with rationality and sanity. Along with vocabulary and knowledge expansion, memory improvement, and cognitive mental stimulation, reading can save us from everything including ourselves.

I believe we are the biggest enemies of ourselves. In this chaotic world one cannot resist him/herself from generating such thoughts which surround them with stress, anxiety, depression, and much more bad vibes.

Reading, in such a wretched and dejected world, holds your hand and transports you to a different world where your mind is free to shape things in whatever form. Hope, serenity, and calmness will shine at every step. The Doors and windows of mind will open up themselves to imbibe the streams of knowledge which are flowing with full zest and zeal around  it. If you are finding reading a difficult task, do not worry, here I am going to jot down some tips to get into the habit of reading. Firstly I will suggest making a list of books that you would love to read. Every person has a different taste and interest. Choose those books which look interesting to you because without interest you cannot hold on to a book very long. In this way you will not be able to make the habit full fledged.Secondly, to motivate yourself for reading and to keep the enthusiasm of reading alive, set a goal month or year and try hard to accomplish it. It will give consistency which is essential for building up the habit.Moreover, finding a good place to read is another important factor, it will help you to dive into reading and prevent you from distractions. Furthermore, it is not important to finish the book you choose. If the book looks boring to you, drop it and grab another one to keep the consistency in your reading.

Lastly, you can start reading any book with your friends, brothers or sisters. You all can read the same book and discuss it once you all have finished it and set days to complete the  book. In this way you will be committed towards reading. I hope you will find this little endeavor to make your reading experience resplendent and beautiful and help you build a habit of reading. Now go and grab a book and start reading.

The contributor is a student at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.

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