This is going to sound like a rant because it is one.
Reading is not a competition. Wait. Nothing in life is a competition. Except actual competitions. But there are no reading competitions. Except exams. This is going nowhere.
What I am saying is this.
You don’t have to read a thousand and 1 books before you die. You don’t have to read the classics. You don’t have to read entire bibliographies. You don’t have to do anything.
You don’t have to read to impress that girl. Wait, you might want to do that. Make your choices.
It is okay if you haven’t read any book that your friends have read. It is very okay if you haven’t read any book that your favourite celebrity has read.
Read that one book you loved as a kid. Re-read it sixteen times. Read it till the cover curls. Read it till your thumbs are a part of the pages.
Read that book that made you want to write. Read that book that made you wish you were the author. Know what it feels like to be a creator.
Read anything and read everything. But more importantly, don’t just read. Read to understand. Saunter across a chapter. Gaze unhurriedly at a turn of phrase. Remark to no one or yourself about how charming a sentence is. Read and re-read a word that you never read before. Delve deep into that word’s history. Find out its secret origin. Check if the word has attractive cousins. Admire that literary device even though you have no idea what a literary device is. Read the first line. Ruminate. Imagine things. Fascinate your mind. Make worlds out of words.
Stop and stare into the book. Then, stop and stare into the distance. But make sure you are not really staring at pretty girls. People find that weird. Stop and stare at the text. Make it blush. Find meaning. If you can’t, make your own. This is important. Think about it.
Some books might seem boring. Some books are boring. It is not always easy to tell the difference. It is not always required to tell the difference.
Some books are bigger than other books. Wade in these books. Let yourself get dirty. Learn to acknowledge your ignorance. Treat these books with respect. Give them the time they deserve. Destroy your eyes reading them. Lose yourself in them. Like totally.
Stick with a book. Hang around with it. Go deeper. Learn. Look smart as you pore over tomes and erudition and body odor drip out of you in equal measure.
Why read widely when you can read deeply?
Inquires a querulous voice.
What use is breezing through several books without really feeling for any of them?
A lot use some might say. Some others might easily disagree.
If you read books of value, and there are few of these, you must study them, and if you study, you ought to take notes. And if you take notes, you owe it to yourself to assemble them into some form resembling a train. If you read other books, read them intelligently because all books have value.
There is triteness in these remarks but they also carry a smidgen of truth.
In the words of Schopenhauer: “Forever reading, never read.”
If you want to be read, then you must write.