Reading books

I’m happy I was able to finish Murakami’s “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 I’m reading. I don’t like baroque spells of reading.

This is the reason why I’ve read so little in the past few years. In fact it’s been more than 10 years. Not that I read 100s of books before that, it’s 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 won’t 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.

I’m not complaining about why I don’t 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 I’m doing something else. Reading demands total devotion, I respect the book I’m reading and it cannot be something I’m “also doing”. I mean, I cannot read for 30 minutes or 40 minutes a day and complete a book in a week. I’ve never read a book just before going to bed, or while I’m 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 she’s seen me doing professional content writing or technical writing; she’s 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 Seth’s interview in which he said he doesn’t read books because it affects the way he writes (incidentally, I’ve 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 I’ll be spending the coming weekends reading some great books. Next weekend I plan to read Ulysses. I’ve been trying to read it for a long time, but somehow, couldn’t go beyond a few pages due to its size, and language. But after reading “Kafka on the Shore” I’m feeling quite encouraged. I’ll be writing more about my reading and writing experience. In the coming days I’ll also be posting a few of my older writings.

0 thoughts on “Reading books

  1. J

    i have tried reading Ulysses too a couple of times .. but somehow not able to finish even chapter 1. i’ll try again, if i can find it.

    Umberto Eco .. how nostalgic .. 🙂