Im happy I was able to finish Murakamis Kafka on the Shore during the weekend 90% of it the remaining I read on Monday and Tuesday, after doing my work. Reading books is quite challenging for me because I cannot do reading as a side activity. It has to be full-throttle, without interference; I even tend to switch my phone off when Im reading. I dont like baroque spells of reading.
This is the reason why Ive read so little in the past few years. In fact its been more than 10 years. Not that I read 100s of books before that, its just that, whenever I read, I could just go on reading without interruption. In the past 10 years I must have hardly read 20 books.
I did most of my reading in the late 80s and the early 90s when I was always busy minding my own business. I had a small study table by the bedroom window, and the comers and goers were perpetually greeted by my back, as I was always reading, sitting on that table, with my back to the door. I wont claim those were the best days of my life (in fact during a later binge-reading period I was about to kill myself) but yes, vis-a-vis book reading, those were. I got introduced to Garcia, Salman Rushdie, Umberto Eco and Dostoyevski during that period.
Im not complaining about why I dont read much now. In fact I can easily say this is the happiest although strained sometimes due to constantly periods of illness period of my life. But if I can incorporate reading too, nothing like it. My problem is that I cannot read while Im doing something else. Reading demands total devotion, I respect the book Im reading and it cannot be something Im also doing. I mean, I cannot read for 30 minutes or 40 minutes a day and complete a book in a week. Ive never read a book just before going to bed, or while Im waiting to do something else.
Book reading, I just re-realized, is essential for me if I want to do some serious writing. Recently Alka and I were going through some of my very old documents and she was genuinely amazed to see how I used to write. Ever since we met shes seen me doing professional content writing or technical writing; shes read a few of my literary works, but it was for the first time I showed her one of the novels I was working on before I stopped writing fiction. While going through the first few pages, I realized, once again, that the only thing that truly makes me happy is writing fiction, and reading helps me segue into that mode. I once read Vikram Seths interview in which he said he doesnt read books because it affects the way he writes (incidentally, Ive never read him), and I would like to read precisely for this reason. All the writers I avidly read are or were voracious readers and I feel if you want to write, you need to be able to read too, and this applies to every art and science.
So hopefully Ill be spending the coming weekends reading some great books. Next weekend I plan to read Ulysses. Ive been trying to read it for a long time, but somehow, couldnt go beyond a few pages due to its size, and language. But after reading Kafka on the Shore Im feeling quite encouraged. Ill be writing more about my reading and writing experience. In the coming days Ill also be posting a few of my older writings.