On Reading – From being a Lapsed reader to Starting to Read Regularly Again

One of the things I have noticed about myself, over the last few years, has been this tremendous reluctance to start books or shows. I have become so used to snacking on content, that a full book or a long-running show terrifies me in terms of time commitment. I have books on my Kindle, that i have never even opened, and I have shows that I haven’t managed to go past the trailer.

I buy the book or put the show on my list, but I never get actually around to it. It isn’t that I am not reading or watching, it is just that i am not doing either in a structured manner.

One way of looking at it is to say that leisure cannot be structured. But, the other way is understanding that as your life gets more packed with conflicting priorities – including a full night’s sleep – unless I earmark time for watching or reading, it will never take place.

The second thing that is important to have is a choice of things to watch and read. Just because I read something from Sapiens yesterday, doesn’t mean I want to read it today. Maybe today I am in a Raymond Chandler mode. Same with viewing. At the same time, I do not want to be confronted with the tyranny of choosing between 300+ unread titles, or 3000+ unwatched shows. I am therefore using my top 10 slots almost to curate my interests for now and have reading/viewing for every mood.

And, the final thing, I don’t have to finish anything at one go. I can snack my way through the book or the show/film. Currently, I am watching the Titans in 15-minute chunks, and not everyday. I don’t think I can commit to more time than that.

This piece on reading, that someone on twitter kindly shared, tells me that I am not the only person going through this – “I cannot finish a book’ trauma. Maybe this way of diversifying my reading will help me read more. I am missing reading, but I am simply not able to get back to it.

So right now this is my reading list – I am reading all of them. Some physical copies, the other on the kindle – and since new year this has been working out quite well. I manage a chapter of two books each day, and it is strangely satisfying. I am not in a hurry to finish anything. I am happy to go with the flow.

The Books

Yuval Harari – Sapiens – this is one book that i started and stopped about half a dozen times. This year’s resolution is to finish reading it – in little chunks

Joe Sacco’s Palestine is a magnificent journalistic retelling of the situation in Palestine, using the techniques of graphic novels. One of my gifts for Christmas, the book kicks you out of a comfort zone of privilege.

Amber Sinha’s Networked Public gives you an overview of digital issues, including security, privacy, filter bubbles, and democracy. Right now I am two chapters down. It has a lot of Indian examples that make it interesting.

MT Vasudavan Nair’s – Bhima the Lone Warrior. I had read Prem Panicker’s translation of this on his blog, eons ago. And, the story stuck in my brain. When i saw this on Amazon, it was an instant buy. I am proceeding slightly faster on this read.

Abhinav Agarwal’s debut novel Predators and Prey is an old fashioned thriller that keeps your attention hooked. Missing secrets, wiped out identity and hunted heroes … what more can you ask for ?

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