Monday, October 6, 2014

Reader's Block

We all have heard of the phenomenon of Writer’s block – where the writer suddenly goes bereft of ideas and is not able to put pen to paper to vent out his creative feelings.  I am not sure if there one exists for the readers as well – something like a Reader’s block where an avid reader is suddenly not inclined to read anymore which is quite uncharacteristic of him.

Well for me I feel the above term would be apt to describe my spell of last 2-3 months where I didn’t read a single book. I don’t know I didn’t feel like picking up a book and reading one. Not that I am saying I am a very avid reader but yes off late I have made it a point to read. I do maintain a list of books I will like to read next and this always keeps me going ahead. But for some reason I didn’t feel like reading.

How important reading is a fact I don’t need to stress upon much. We need to feed our mind with ideas especially good ones and books are the rich source of them. Of course, quality of the material you read is very important. Now a days we have so much junk floating around in newspapers (which have started to resemble more like tabloids), on social media, on television and cinemas. Sometimes, I feel that people who read are really in a minority. People’s habits seems to have undergone a sea-change as there are now so many ways to occupy (or kill) your time.

Inspite of knowing the benefits of reading I couldn’t complete a single book in the last three months. L

You can’t blame me for not trying though. I picked up Raghuram Rajan’s Fault Lines where he comments on the global financial crisis in 2008 but left it midway as it contains lots of financial jargon and I have to keep looking them up on the internet. It is an interesting subject but a tough book. I have now twice picked up this book, started reading it and abandoned it midway. Quite a shame! I will definitely go for it in future. Another book which I took up is widely praised George Orwell’s 1984. Its genre is fiction and it talks about how a Big Brother will be watching us all the time. In popular culture, Google is being suspected to turn into such a Big Brother. Another trivia associated with it – Apple computers launched their advertisement campaign in 1984 inspired by this book. I picked up 1984, struggled with it for a few weeks and left it. Around the same time I had read somewhere that if you don’t like a book, leave it as it is taking up your precious time. It seems to have stuck in the back of my mind and it prompted me to abandon midway the above two mentioned gems. Only now I realize that it seems like a foolish suggestion. I should not be doing that - giving up on trivial things like tough jargon or a non-interesting genre.

So when this realization dawned upon me, I walked into a library eager to put this reading-and-abandoning-books-midway streak of mine to bed. I shortlisted two – Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, about psychology and Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman, a brief account of some instances in the life of Nobel Prize Winner in Physics Richard Feynman. I decided to go easy on myself and chose the later. Although, I didn’t like the font type in the book. It was too small and looked dull but I went along with it somehow.

Apprehensive about the outcome I started reading it and felt engaged and I warmed up to the theme of the book quickly. As the title suggests it has humour and I did burst out laughing quite a few times reading it. And I am happy to share that I completed it in over a weekend i.e 350 odd pages covered in 48 hours. Not that I did so to prove something but I liked the book, the narration so much that I went on. I really liked reading it and thanks to it got to know about one of the greatest physicists we have ever had. Later I tried to read more about Richard Feynman on the internet and even watched a nice TedTalk by one of his colleagues, Prof. Leonard Susskind in Stanford University.  Now that I am interested to know more about Feynman, I am planning to read another of his semi-autobiographical book – What Do You Care What Other People Think? I’ll post something on here if I happen to read it. 

But overall it feels good to be reading again!