Reflections on reading

“I haven’t read a book in ages..” I remarked rather wistfully to a friend on the phone one day in the recent past. The conversation then veered onto books and off tangentially to culture and such. Climbing the stairs to my bedroom, my eyes were glued in the dim light to an interesting post on my google reader on the tiny flickering screen of my phone. Pausing at the landing I stood one leg ready to climb while I absorbed the context of the post. Nodding mentally, I reluctantly switched the phone off, gained speed climbing the rest of the steps and merged into oblivion.

Driving into work this morning, my mind kept going back to the absorbing post that I read mid step in the middle of the night. What was it about words strung together that affected me so much? My mind wandered back to the days of voracious reading. Of devouring books by the dozen. Of reading under the covers with a torchlight and sneaking into the kitchen way past midnight and reading under a flickering 40 watt bulb. When boulevards, trench coats, treacle pudding, tarts, pies, freeways, fedoras and supermarkets were words that lent itself to whatever meaning I chose to give it. Days when running out of books to read meant browsing the dictionary on a treasure hunt of sorts jumping from one word to the next. Words that opened up worlds and truly globalized my mind. Words that suddenly made me a precocious middle schooler.

It struck me perhaps I enjoyed reading as a means to an end. A way to quench my unending thirst for knowledge. A thirst born out of being mediocre. A way to get into the popular crowd dominated by straight A students, people good at sports and people good-looking. What books once gave me, the internet does now. While I may have stopped reading books a while back, I have really not stopped reading. It just happens to be on a flickering screen.

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