Incurable habit

Incurable habit

None can refute the benefits of reading

Representative Image. Credit: iStock Photo

Eclipsed by the Internet, mobile games and new technologies, books have been elbowed out by alternative forms of entertainment that have captured the fancy of the young generation.

I recollect those days when there would be a mini World War to read the children’s magazine to which we as children subscribed. The animals, adventures, detectives, ghosts and war stories would enthral us. My brother benefitted the most because what we sisters read at that age was being devoured by him though he was five years younger. I liked Archie, Richie Rich and Superwoman comics along with Nancy Drew, Famous Five, Famous Seven, Agatha Christie and so on. He read those and later developed taste for Tintin, Tarzan, Spiderman, Superman, Phantom and Commando series of comics along with Alfred Hitchcock, Arthur Conan Doyle and P G Wodehouse. Reading gave him wisdom beyond years.

From the beginning, our parents encouraged reading. At nightfall, before going to bed, we kids would listen to Panchatantra stories narrated by our parents, with our mouths agape, involved in the ups and downs of the tale. We insisted upon listening to the Mahabharat and Ramayana umpteen times. As we grew older, we started reading Amar Chitra Katha and Jataka Tales, fables of our past. In the process, the values of Indian culture were ingrained in us. Slowly, we graduated to classics of English literature, to the works of Jane Austen, George Eliot, Emily Bronte, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy and ever so many.

None can refute the benefits of reading. It lays a firm foundation for greater things. It aids the development of fluency of thoughts. Our vocabulary and expression acquire a new dimension. Speaking, reading, writing and listening skills get refined. Books increase our range of vision as they acquaint us with different cultures — their religions, traditions, customs and ethnicities.

Incidentally, this stood my brother in good stead when he was posted from one country to another. Not to despair, those who cannot travel can also benefit. Such armchair travellers can learn about various cultures and countries through travelogues, from the comfort of their homes.

The good part is that books can be read on the move or at leisure. When my brother travels on official duty, he catches up on his reading. I am the happy recipient of all the books that my brother and sister read when they are globe-trotting.

Books engage everyone because, after all, all emotions are universal. A good book may seem to be a sheaf of papers but it is much, much more. It leaves us richer and wealthier. It drives away feelings of loneliness and isolation and, in the current turbulent times, it becomes our bosom friend.

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