The Subtle Art of giving a Read
Updated: Oct 27, 2021
In this era of social media and internet, where everything is so fast, information gets past you in a "flash". There's no time to read it all and there's just so much clutter! Watching a video feels like the best way to absorb information. Yet, I'm writing for someone to read!
Newsflash! I hated reading for about 25 years. You may be wondering, why you should read an article written by someone who hated reading? The answer is somewhere between the lines. I’d like to mention that I am not a super successful person and still nowhere near being successful. But I am getting there, one step at a time by reading, one word at a time.
I hated reading for about 25 years!
In school, I had average grades and I read books which were strictly in the curriculum. Our school had a library, and it was mandatory to borrow a book every week. I had rarely opened any book, except for signing the library card inside. I had never read a goddamn word. I used to judge books by their covers. Old, wrinkly, rusty, fat! I used to give them all kinds of labels. The only books I used to love were new thinner books with images in them, and the fragrance of a newly printed book! I used to love encyclopedias, but don’t remember reading anything.
We also had annual book stalls on the day our parents met teachers and collected our year end results. My parents knew I hated reading, so they never bought me books. Only once, they had purchased an R. L. Stine book from the "Goosebumps" series, a new thin book, and I had loved the smell of the fresh brand-new pages. I had read that one. I remember, it had taken a long time to finish.
The Harry Potter books were introduced and were quite popular during the time and they are still to this very day. And you guessed it correctly, I called them fat and didn’t even open. I did, however, watch the movies. Some "Potter heads" have the right to cringe at me for that! Fast forward a few years, at the age of 22, I took a break from academics for about a year and had plenty of free time. My head was cluttered from all the nonsense subjects I had learnt over the years from academics. I felt during the academics, that they had no use to me in life. Even being a creative person, I had learnt engineering. Fat books filled with high level mathematics and engineering jargon! I needed a year to reflect and find a better path in life. That's when I discovered that you could listen to a book. What? "How can you listen to a book?", was my first thought. “If someone recites to me, I'll probably sleep, exactly like I used to in those boring physics lectures!”, were some of my first impressions. I had always loved watching movies and playing video games. Movies were audio-visual which imprinted strongly in the brain. I could recall movie scenes way better than a mathematical formula. There was something about audio-visual that was intriguing. This made my attention span for books even less.
One fine day, I was watching a website; don't remember the website, but I was browsing on Microsoft Edge, the default Windows browser. I accidentally right clicked, and my attention was caught by the option, “” A” Read aloud Ctrl+ Shift +U." I clicked it and I heard sounds of a beautiful voice of a lady reading the paragraph for me. I jumped up naked from the bathtub and went running on the streets yelling, "Eureka!", "Eureka!", "Eureka!". I am kidding, of course.
I had the series of Harry Potter e-books in my laptop; don't remember how they got there. I opened the first one in Microsoft Edge, right clicked and allowed the beautiful voice to narrate me the story of "The boy who lived". The browser was highlighting the words that were being read and the audio-visual was entering my mind like a nut & bolt. I don't remember the number of pages I had read, but they were the most amount I had ever read till that day. This was something different and it changed my views on books.
I finished the entire Harry Potter series in that month and loved it. Having watched the movies, the characters were in my mind, so I could visualize everything. I felt like I had gained a new superpower. The next on the list would be "Game of Thrones." I was already watching the TV series; however, I hadn't touched the books. There was a long waiting time between the release of the seventh and the eighth season, so I began reading "The Song of Ice and Fire". It was interesting and I could visualize the characters. Then, the eighth season arrived, and everything stopped. The series was extremely disappointing, and I gave up on reading, yet one more time.
At the age of 24, I began pursuing a career in Design and someone had recommended me to read "The Design of Everyday Things." I began reading it on paper but left it midway. I was discouraged. I began reading "How to Draw" and "How to Render" by Scott Robertson. I couldn't read them entirely. However, the book had plenty of images and add-on videos which helped me a great deal! I ordered a bunch of Car Design magazines, but I only looked at the beautiful designs of future cars. By then, my academics didn't consist of much reading. "Phew!" I exclaimed to myself!
To fast forward, COVID-19 hit, it was depressing, I graduated after a year, I had no job, and being an introvert, I had no social life. I began watching motivational videos on YouTube. Every one of them emphasized on the importance of reading. I tried listening to three self-help books with Audible free subscription and finished only two of them. I remember being highly motivated by David Goggins, which led me his book, “Can’t hurt me!”. I got my hands on the eBook version and used my laptop to narrate me. I could see the words highlighted and read aloud at the same time. This audio-visual effect made the words imprint my mind as strong as watching a movie. I increased the speed of narration. 2x, 3x, 4x. I finished the book within a month. I began reading “The shoe dog”, the book about my favorite shoe creator, NIKE. I finished it in a week. It was fun & inspiring! The more books I read, the more fun it was and like a crackhead, I was hooked.
I read more books now than I have ever read in my 26 years and I hope there will be more time for me to read. If only I were "Dr. Strange" and could have my aura read while I am asleep! Or “The Flash” to read a book per second! I’ll leave technology for inventing better ways of reading in the future, but for now, let’s read at 4x speed.