It’s been a month since the institute was shut down and all our activities came to a screeching halt. How have you been faring since then? Can you keep yourself occupied, or do you feel that there is too much time and too little to do?

Eventually, even binge-watching and games get boring, right?

Fret not, we have a suggestion, why not start reading! No, not your textbooks but rather take a deep dive into the magical world of stories or step into the shoes of someone from a different time and place to get different perspectives on issues. Remember those school days when reading was a beloved pastime but was forgotten in the rat race called JEE, or perhaps you always wanted to read but lacked the time. Fate works in mystical ways and now all the time and freedom you dreamt of, is yours. 

Let’s start a new hobby together, let us start reading.

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Why is reading important? 

Nowadays, many people are complaining about a decrease in their attention span. We have a penchant for scrolling endlessly through the news feed for new content. Shifting our attention every few minutes and multitasking depletes our effectiveness and makes us feel exhausted. Can books save us from what digital devices do to our brains? Well, yes! Digital devices and software are finely tuned to train us to pay attention to them. The mechanism conveyed by recent neuroscience studies tells us that new information creates a rush of dopamine, and the promise of new information compels us to look at our phone constantly. To know more about it read this article: http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2018/dopamine-smartphones-battle-time/

We need to de-train our minds from wanting a constant hit of dopamine that a digital interruption would provide and start reading books, as it will help us to focus. Books are different from visuals as they force us to walk through another’s thoughts and share our mind with the writer. It requires active reflection and not just passive consumption. 

 

Literature has a unique power to connect us to people and stories we might never have otherwise encountered. We can say that reading enhances empathy and the ability to understand one’s own and other’s identities. It also has therapeutic effects, the term for it being Bibliotherapy. Books even help in alleviating loneliness by mimicking the effects of socializing with a group and providing a collective identity, according to a research. Research shows that solo activities like reading, watching movies, or playing single-player video games provide introverted individuals with the same fulfillment as interpersonal interactions. To know more about this research visit https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21750250

Reading a good book can also help people in these troubled times and further assist in coping with the baggage that comes with being isolated. Books provide the opportunity for social connection and the blissful calm that comes from becoming a part of something larger than oneself for a precious, fleeting moment. You don’t have to be a book-lover to understand how fantastic that is, so pick up a book and get started!

How to get started

Availability? Start easy, interesting fiction (detective/fantasy) usually a ‘series’ (like Sherlock Holmes/Hercule Poirot/Lord of the Rings) so that you have multiple titles to look forward to in the same genre (binge reading). You can even start with books that have a lot of illustrations and can be read in a few hours like The Diary of a Wimpy Kid, these are fun (and easy to read on a screen)!

 

If you were a reader earlier and lost touch after coming to insti, then maybe it’s time to reread the old classics which enabled you to fall in love with reading in the first place. Old comics, fiction, even Chetan Bhagat, whatever excites & reignites your love for reading! 

What to read?

  • Non-fiction: Godel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid; Sapiens 
  • Fantasy: Harry Potter Series; A Song of Ice and Fire
  • Young Adult: The Fault in Our Stars, Twilight series
  • Crime/Thriller: Poirot: Agatha Christie Novels, Sherlock Holmes Collection, The Perfect Murders, Cormoron Strike series
  • Horror: The Goosebumps series, Novels by Stephen King
  • Comics/Manga: Tintin (The most thrilling adventures etched in our memories, with Tintin in his blue pants and golden hair, his loyal dog Snowy, and pipe-smoking Captain Haddock who hates mineral water:P); Calvin & Hobbes Comic Strips
  • Biographies/Autobiographies/Memoirs: Surely, You’re Joking Mr.Feynman; Just Kids by Pattie Smith; Dreams from my father

          

Conclusions/Suggestions

Having said all this, just start with a book you think you might like from any genre. Challenge yourself with a different genre if you already have a liking. It will surely help in settling and quieting the mind and coping with what’s happening in the world right now. Reading leads to a string of personal imaginations in which the reader is transported into a world created by him/herself. The personality traits that we attach to our interpretation of the stories helps us in reinventing & rediscovering ourselves & moulds us into better, more insightful individuals. That it will be a highly productive use of time goes without saying. If falling short of suggestions, you may also join an online book club or follow some blogs. Some links have been provided here for your reference. The memories you make while reading a book and the bond you develop with it, are worth experiencing:)

 

Useful Resources

Goodreads is a social cataloguing website that allows individuals to freely search its database of books, annotations, and reviews. You can see the books your friends are reading, share your reviews and suggestions, take part in challenges etc

 

Project Gutenberg is a volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works. It has a collection of more than 60,000 free epub and Kindle eBooks. You can download them or read them online.