How many people read books?

“There are two motives for reading a book; one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can brag about it’— Bertrand Russell

I like to read. For my part, I am the happiest of readings.

Apps. like Goodreads keeps track of the books we’ve read and want to read. They even have reading challenges, book clubs, and roundtables. A few on Goodreads read over 100 books in a year. I can read a maximum of 50 books per year. The best part of being part of Goodreads is that we can read reviews from many people.

Some books are quick and easy to read. Some are hard reads with not just difficult sentences, but high quality words. Reading is a very enjoyable but solitary activity that can be made very interesting when a book club is involved.

There are book clubs like Oprah’s or Reese Witherspoon’s that give book recommendations. To keep up to date with the latest trends, one can check out what they recommend.

Some editions are beautiful

I have a few friends who buy different editions of the same book and take pictures and post them on social media. Some editions are beautiful. After reading a classic, they wouldn’t mind reading it over and over again. I often wonder how many people re-read books.

I reread a few books and observed that more often than not we tend to forget a lot about a book and when we revisit it we admire the finer nuances of the book, grasp the pure beauty and identify all the points which we had missed earlier.

Once we read a book that all of us in our book club found very difficult. The book is Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. We had to postpone the book club meeting because we couldn’t finish it. Despite the postponement, some of us have finished reading it and some have not.

Five stories end on a cliffhanger, only the sixth is complete and then the five stories are told in reverse order. Each story had a different storytelling style. The writer is brilliant but readers like us struggle. I think to be such a writer you have to have a brain that can visualize stories in many dimensions.

I read Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita a few years ago and the book haunted me for days. Some subjects can be heartbreaking, grueling and mentally draining. Unless you make up your mind, you cannot read such books.

Another book club had recommended “A Gentleman from Moscow” by Amor Towles. We all loved the book. It is a classic of the current era, although the story takes place at the time of the Russian revolution, we are transported to that time.

A sense of accomplishment

There are two advantages to reading tomes. First, it gives a sense of accomplishment, that you’ve finished a massive book, second, once you’re done, it can be used as a door stopper. Books like Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy), Gone with the Wind (Margaret Mitchell), etc fall into this category.

Two contemporary books that are my favorite are Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 (magical realism/fantasy) and Ken Follett’s ‘Pillars of Earth’ (Historical Fiction). I started reading ‘A la recherche du temps perdu’ by Marcel Proust, (the biggest brake on the door) I didn’t finish it. He wrote sentences that wouldn’t end two pages later. I often had to reread from the beginning of the sentence. I hope to finish it.

Some days a certain book may not be very appealing, although many people have given rave reviews. It is our mindset that is to blame.

Some books are easy to read and can be finished in one sitting. Books like Colleen Hoover’s Verity (thriller/suspense) and Alka Josh’s Henna Artist (historical fiction) have simple but very interesting storylines and lucid writing.

Reading is a rich experience in which not only do we gain knowledge, but reading fiction often makes a person more understanding of others and more empathetic. Reading is fun, motivating and reduces stress. If nothing else at night, you can doze off a few minutes after opening a book.

Anuradha Sharma is an Abu Dhabi-based freelancer

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