” Fading away like the stars of the morning
Losing their light in the glorious day “
This is part of a verse of a popular hymn sang at Christian funerals but I find it apt to describe the culture of book reading. It is fading away. It is gradually dying.
Books aren’t just pieces of paper bound together. They contain wisdom, motivation, stories invoking tears or laughter, pieces of the human life crafted together in such an appealing fashion to gently drag a reader into a world of imagination and reality. When I was a child, I loved to read books. We had tons of books on every subject you can think of. Our house was like a mini-library. Along with other beautiful toys and gifts, we received books for our birthdays.
Reading books helps to unite people of diverse cultures and beliefs together from the establishment of reading groups, communities, and forums where different minds converse on the book of the week. There is this joy that envelops one when coming home after a stress-filled day to relax with a book, your cat or chosen pet on your lap.
How about when you want to access a great number of books made free for your reading pleasure? The public library stands firm in its unwavering promise to serve its community shelves and shelves of books. In this modern-day, books enclosed in pdf, epub, and other file types have become the norm. While we should go with the flow of the digital age, nothing beats the excitement we get turning the pages of the book we are currently reading until we get to the end. Staring at the screen for hours may cause some eye issues nobody wants.
The importance and benefits of book reading cannot be over-emphasized. As a teenager growing up then, my love for books usually kept me engrossed, my attention devoted to the words in the fine print. I would be so deeply buried in reading that I wouldn’t hear my mum calling me to send me on an errand (sorry mum!). It earned me some reprimanding and corrections. I was encouraged to read, but not at the expense of my house chores. After running those errands, you would see me back in my room picking up that same book. I even stay awake all night sometimes to finish reading a book, especially if it was lent to me.
As an adult now, reading books shaped my reasoning and understanding. I have not been left in the Dark Ages about modern concepts. I have managed to stay afloat in this ever-changing world. It improved my vocabulary. The times perusing the dictionary while reading a book to better understand the ‘big’ words written paid off beautifully. With the emergence of new words, grammar rules, and diction, a greater part of me feels gratitude for the countless hours spent usefully on my books. It gave me the ability (and pride) to converse with fellow learners and geniuses individually or in groups.
Book reading always help people network better, make quality friends and connections. When invited to speak on a panel, or to speak, there is no cowering or hiding behind the wall, afraid to speak. Being knowledgeable about that particular topic you are asked to speak on is undeniable power.
Efforts are being made to revive this flickering flame yet sometimes we wonder in our private bedrooms whether it is yielding good fruits or not.
The idea that reading books are boring has encroached into the minds of the youth of today. Compulsive use of smartphone, tablet, and computer interfere with book reading because of the games, apps, and online worlds they connect the youth to. Interest is turned to short skits, funny videos, and TikTok. While this is considered helpful for stress relief, it should have its place among books. However, that seems not to be the case. Also, students these days have become social media obsessed and they love to spend their time on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Hence, their productive time which can be spent on book reading gets wasted.
Reading is considered a hobby for seniors. In movies, we always see the elderly sitting on their rocking chairs either knitting or reading a book while the young ones drive fast cars, smoke, and party till dawn. Books just don’t have a place in this modern age. This is erroneous thinking by some persons. How can books not have a place in this era? It has existed for years, decades, and centuries before our great grandparents were even born.
The avid book lovers and the government can find ways to improve the situation of reading books. They can organize events, conferences, and programs targeted specifically at the youths to educate them on the importance of book reading. NGOs can be created to support book reading through organizing festivals.
A program could be established that young people, their parents, and whoever is interested can read books to sick patients in hospitals. This can help in putting smiles on their faces, and making them forget, for the moment, about their illnesses. The government should ensure that they provide books, academics and others, to students of school age either free or at a discounted price.
In places where there are none, public libraries should be established so that the older ones can relive the memories of going there, and the younger ones can experience it new.
Delegates of the government can be sent to schools to read to children. Properly introducing these delegates and having them read hardcover books can instill awe and a sense of purpose in these young future giants.
‘If the President reads books, I will, too, so I can become a President.’
To keep up with the digital age, copies of hardcover books can be bought from online bookstores which will be delivered to doorsteps of the readers.
To us who still read, keep up the work!