R E A D I N G
Umma Maimuna Alam
The name of this article could have been “People Who Dislike Reading”, but that would not be accurate because human minds do not dislike reading. Our brains process information reflexively, by seeing and making sense of it pretty easily. We read all the time; whether it be reading labels at grocery shops, a Facebook post, or even the subtitles of an English movie. Still, many people dislike reading books, be it fiction or nonfiction. The thought of sitting with a book without an obligation or interest and having to finish it without any evidential reward can be daunting for these people.
Although in Bangladesh, grace to the rich Bangla language literature and prevalence of English as a second language for literates, the population of book-lovers is huge. Even so, the amount of people disliking reading books is not small either. A few reasons for many not liking books are pointed out below.
Reading appears to be boring
We live in a world where we are constantly bombarded with information and dopamine-stimulating content. Reading a book requires a certain amount of time, attention, and commitment. Why bother with it when one can spend the same amount of time scrolling through Instagram posts or hanging out with friends? And then when one asks why we are not fans of books, the answer comes that we just do not have time for it.
Although reading books can appear to be a tedious task, it ensures growth little by little and can benefit both one’s mind and life. According to neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis, reading for even six minutes daily can relieve stress up to 68%. Therefore, the importance of unadulterated reading is vital for our minds to not only gain knowledge but also to process better functioning of our minds. Even if it seems boring, once one starts reading, their interest blooms with time.
Don’t know where to start
I have come across many people who want to build the habit of reading, but are confused about how to start. Although there are different options, it gets easier and more suitable if they start by reading small works like short stories and poems. Many renowned writers even advised starting reading comics or children’s illustrated books to motivate oneself into wanting to read without any pressure.
Take baby steps instead of forcing yourself to finish novels or thick books of 600 pages. You can choose any genre, no one truly sticks to a specific genre for their entire life. You can begin with anything. Folktale, prose, fiction, horror, or anything else that interests you. The options are endless. We all started by reading small sentences. Then we advanced into reading whole paragraphs. So, it is unreasonable to expect to become a book lover just by reading a single book.
Reading books outside the curriculum seems futile
Many parents in Bangladesh consider reading books apart from academic textbooks unnecessary. Right from the junior classes, the recreational activities of students are limited, yet a tendency to spend the time playing games or watching videos instead of reading is preferable. Many parents do support their children and even inspire them by buying books but there is still a mentality that books outside of studies are neither needed nor relevant. The scarcity of local libraries, the absence of book clubs, and the lack of an encouraging environment can be the reason for many to not experience the pleasure of reading.
Lack of imagination
When it comes to reading fiction or other genres, one needs some imagination. Books open a realm of possibilities and imaginations to the readers. But if it is beyond imagination then the readers cannot relate, and thus do not enjoy reading. If young children are introduced to reading through books like Moby-Dick, Anne Frank, then they might not be able to comprehend the content. But if they are introduced to books like Lebu Mamar Saptakando, Tintin, and some other books which children can easily relate to, then they can develop a love for reading. Being able to picture and imagine the scenes can help children get enthusiastic for more.
This applies to adults too. If you find yourself feeling stuck and not enjoying the process of imagery, then maybe you should try something from Bangla writers or writers from Asia. Because it is hard to be what you cannot see. The sense of seeing the point of view of the writer can empower the non-reader to like the process of reading.
Living in the moment
In his documentary, the famous illustrator and children’s book writer, Christoph Niemann claimed that he was never a reader because when one reads, they enter a different world, and Niemann did not like escaping reality. Many people do not like fiction whether it be a thriller, fantasy, or horror. It can be different for different people. There is no such book that everyone will love. Reading is a journey, one might like only a specific genre and another can like reading all types of books. It depends on an individual to decide which books grasp their interest. For this, one needs to try reading and experimenting before deciding to just give up on reading all at once. Sometimes, finding the right book takes some time.
There is no doubt that books are food for the mind and soul. So, to improve one’s life, books need to be read. And what better time to start reading than the beginning of the famous Ekushey Boi Mela 2021? Although this time might be a different experience for all of us, we should try to encourage new writers and engage in this incredible national event. And, what better way to keep up the spirit of the yearly book fair than to start reading a book?
Being INFJ, Maimuna is constantly curious and chasing the thrill of living. Reach out to [email protected] for any thoughts to share.