Archive for March, 2018

Bookworm

Posted in ramdom rambling on March 2, 2018 by prajwalpai

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The eternal wisdom says reading is the best habit one can inculcate. Is it time to question this?

The spark that triggered this blog is a fb post by one of my dearest friend. He got irked by many ppl for apparently treating him to be unwise due to his lack of reading habit.

While I would like to be a wise and well-read bookworm, unfortunately I am not. I read my first book after my engineering and in recent times hardly read a couple of books per year. I recently finished listening to my first audio book. My first experience on Audible was a pleasant surprise and I couldn’t have picked up a better book than ‘The power of Habit’.

The origin of books

Since ages books has been the sole tool of information transfer and information consumption. We had a tradition of oral knowledge transfer but we switched to book/leaflets since the dawn of history. The term history kinda exists to an extent due to the book/record keeping habit of our ancestors in forms of books or paintings. Since time immemorial, other than a lecture and personal experience, the only way to consume knowledge was books. It makes complete sense that to be knowledgable, we had to consume books.

The current trend of data consumption

A lot had changed in last century and something drastic has happened in just the last decade. We have different alternatives to books to consume data.  I daresay, we have better ways to consume data now than books.We now have the high-speed Internet! Imagine a person needed to learn cooking, while buying a cook book was the only option few decades back, YouTube would be the best option now. There is no better way to learn cooking than seeing it and reproducing it. The play/pause/rewind option gives us liberty to pace our cooking , making it more advantageous than learning it even from TV.  When it comes to fiction stories, the movie/tv and web series adaptation of story books is preferred option for many than reading the novel. The yellow pages has gone obsolete, the phone book is obsolete. The lifestyle TV channels are a better option than a Lifestyle magazine. We now have YouTube channels which gives out the gist of books and discusses in detail. The current technology of books on Kindle and Audible is slowly changing even the most ardent fans of paperback and voracious readers. The liberty of carrying your whole library around in just one device is a readers fantasy. I finished a book of close to 500 pages and 106 chapters in less than 10 hours! I could do this because of Audible. The bonus was I didn’t have to spend dedicated time for this. I listened while doing my house chores, while I was commuting and while I went to bed (in timer mode). I consumed a book without dedicating a slot for reading.

The Challenges

A book takes around 9 months to write and on average 9-10 months to publish it seems. The process of 15 months means a lot in real world. We had an author talking in my workplace today and she mentioned the book had become obsolete by the time it went from conception stage to publishing as it took 10 months to do that. We had Chetan Bhagat in Cisco where he mentioned that books today doesn’t just compete with other books but it competes with other audio/visual mediums and social media. Why read a book when you can see the movie adaptation in a year? Why read a book when you can see what your friend is doing on Facebook? Why read a book when you can see cat videos on YouTube! Why read a book when you can browse fun memes on 9gag. A book competes for a reader’s attention against every distraction.

The Habit

Reading is still a habit I would prefer to instil in my son. The habit on its own might no more be the sole form of information consumption but it has way too many benefits to ignore. The biggest reality with the current generation is their short attention span. The ads in each medium are investing a lot to catch our attention. The content creator is being paid for getting attention of the user. The free apps are free cause they reap the benefits of getting our attention.

Reading inculcates a  discipline. Some books can be a portal to a different world. The creativity needed to visualise and create an own world in our mind while creating an empathetic connection with the characters of a book for hours/days is unparalleled.

What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.Carl Sagan

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