The story of a happy-go-lucky teenager who was just like everyone else until he got introduced to the world of reading. It gives may teens, a direction to how to pick up books that can transform the way they think.
One thing that I loathed and always took a rain check on in the childhood; and willing to squander my money and time in the adult life- Books. If there is something that I profusely thank my younger self for, it is picking up the habit of productive reading. How many of you resonate with my thoughts?
Everyone has a fascinating story about how they ended up forming a habit or a hobby. I too have one about my reading habit, but not so fascinating. In fact, it was so insignificant that I almost missed on that moment. Those were the days of my engineering.
I met this man who is a freelancing soft skills trainer in our college. When I was getting mangled between ridicule and responsibility in my post-teenage crisis, I was fascinated when I heard him saying “If you want to speak fluently, practice thinking fluently”. When I approached him for a personal conversation, he welcomed me with all-embrace.
Long story short, we became good friends in no time; I often stayed back after classes just to listen to him speak about things like philosophy, life and purpose. One winter evening, while having a conversation over tea in our college guesthouse balcony, he inquisitively said to me… “Do you read books, Saketh?” “Sometimes”, I lied, without realizing the blatancy in my answer. “Hmm... You should read Dale Carnegie’s, Saketh. He spent his entire life empowering and motivating people. You can feel his energy in his books.” Soon the conversation drifted away and so did my thoughts.
A few months later, I saw the uncommon name Dale Carnegie everywhere. It felt like the name was calling for my attention. In the later years, I learnt that the phenomenon is called “Frequency Illusion” when I turned towards reading psychology. Finally, the illusion got better of me and I bought the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. Don’t worry, I am not going to give a review of the book now. It has been beaten to death in all self-help book recommendations, already. Many of you would have read it, too. However what matters here is, the book has completely meddled with my mental circuitry. Since then, I started having conversations with books.
I may come across as insane for having said that. However, scientific studies state that deep reading activates all the regions of our brain giving us a holistic sensory experience. It is as good as having a deep conversation with a close one. Ringing any bells?
In this digital age when we are getting flooded with tons of information just by a swipe on our smartphone, reading books might seem as a colossal waste of time. Like, who want to spend several days reading a book when you can get the gist of the same in a 5-minute YouTube video? I would say, the web is influential, but books are insightful. During the times when smartphones brought down our attention span to unseen lows, the incredible attention to detail in books compel us to become more patient and diligent to grasp the spirit of the book.
But the first question that pops up in the minds of non-readers among us is “What do I read?” I have a simple question that gives and answer, “What do you often think about?” If you can gather the core interests that drive your thoughts, they will guide you towards the books you should read. Some bookworms among us might be taken aback by this idea. We are not talking about those who devour a complete novel in one night. That’s recreational reading. We are concerned about constructive reading- which adds up to build something magnificent in our minds.
For instance, during my engineering days, I was concentrating on making myself a better person and strengthening my inter-personal skills, that led me to read “The Art of Public Speaking” by Dale Carnegie and “Leader Who Had No Title” by Robin Sharma.
That led me to wonder what to do in order to leave my mark in people’s minds in a long term, even when I’m no more. That took me to read that book “Who Will Cry When You Die” by Robin Sharma again, which falls under wisdom literature, which is a whole new world in itself.
Later I started introspecting why we, as humans, always strive to be happy and comfortable which is quite impossible always. Is there no escape from suffering? Is there anything we can learn from suffering? This chain of thoughts led me to take up “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E Frankl, which belongs to the genre psychology.
A bunch of books on Psychology and Biology followed that comprise, but not limited to “Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman, “Drive” by Daniel Pink, “Brain” by David Eagleman, “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell and “Originals” by Adam Grant.
Recently, I brooded over how human beings managed to become the masters of this planet among millions of species. It led me to take up books like “Sapiens” on evolutionary psychology. I have started moving the foundations of my fundamental beliefs about Evolution, Economy, Politics and Religion as we are taught in schools.
So, what am I trying to do? Where am I heading to? The answer is beyond my realm of explanation. What I am reading today may or may not help me earn more money, buy a villa or start my own firm. But it is surely adding building blocks to form a revelation, which makes me appreciate my life journey, irrespective of the outcomes at each stage. In the due course, one may end up being more knowledgeable. In the word of Yuval Noah Harari, the author of “Sapiens”, “the real test of knowledge is not whether it is true, but whether it empowers us. A theory that enables us to do new things constitutes knowledge.” On a final note, constructive reading helps us achieve constructive thinking. It is the root for all the change in the world.