“What are you doing, Aviral?”

“Reading, mom.”

“Reading a book or studying for your exam? You know you have your exam tomorrow. Please give me your books now!”

“Just one more chapter, please.”

I was the kid who loved reading so much that my parents had to literally hide my books whenever I had exams. 

In a lot of ways, I am still that person. I am addicted to reading

Reading changed my life in more ways than I can count. Everything changes when I read. 

Everything changes when we read. 

I know people who have overcome the worst time of their lives through reading books. 

Our brain can’t operate at maximum capacity round the clock. We need to disengage periodically so we can think clearly.  

Reading, for me, is a window into the life of the author, in many ways it’s as good as speaking to the person.

Reading, in a sense, is like meditation. It puts our brain in a trance-like state while we stare at pages imagining the world in our head. It can act as a simulator. 

I often turn to books, fiction or nonfiction, when I am faced with a ‘situation’. It can be related to the situation at hand or completely unrelated but I know as a matter of fact that I will find the answers that I am looking for. 

Surviving in the social world can be a tricky affair. The way we use computer simulations to solve complicated problems, we can use reading to navigate our social, emotional complexities of life. 

Reading has also helped me become a better person in a lot of ways. It has fostered empathy and understanding. It has also helped me adapt better to the ever-changing world. 

“What science fiction does, especially in those works that deal with the future, is help people understand that things change and that you can live through it. Change is all around us. Probably things change faster now than they did four or five hundred years ago, particularly in some parts of the world.” – Eileen Gunn

I don’t know what I would be if I wouldn’t be if I weren’t a reader. But I know what you could be if you were to pick reading as a habit. There’s a world full of opportunities that books present us with. The only question is are you ready to change your life? For the better. 

One question that I get asked more than why I read is how I find the time to read. 

Everyone who knows how much I read thinks that I have nothing else to do. But that’s far from the truth. 

I just give it the same priority in my life as I do to any deadline at work. It’s all about making a choice. 

How much time do you spend scrolling on your phone or on Netflix and chill? 

Can you take some time out, maybe 30 minutes everyday, to read what you are interested in? 

The time I take to read each book depends on the nature of the book. I might breeze through a fiction book in a day but some might take me longer than a week to finish. 

To me, it doesn’t matter how fast I read or how many books I get by in a year. 

What matters is how I retain what I read. 

I take notes. I don’t know how you feel about marginalia but it is my number way to have a conversation with the author. When I communicate, I remember better. 

Keep a pencil and maybe a notebook handy when you’re reading. Keep underlining things that resonate with you. Even if you are reading fiction, know that you can mark things that call out to you. Some quotes, a conversation, or even some descriptions that seem eerily familiar. 

Secondly, I don’t finish the books that no longer interest me. You needn’t read the book if it doesn’t interest you. Allow yourself the permission to give up on the book. 

Pick good reads. I am always asking people for book recommendations. When you know to ask someone you trust what to read, you are bound to get good options. Read books that are timeless. New books on the market can be interesting, but some books stand the test of time and they are the ones that are worth your time. 

I never focus on how many books I read in a year. 

I used to but then I realised that it was counterintuitive. I got caught up in the numbers game and forgot to enjoy the pleasure of reading. Try to keep the focus on the quality of reading – are you enjoying your book and, are you retaining what you are reading?

I enjoy the process. It’s amazing how just 26 letters and a few punctuation marks can make you visit places you’ve never been to and experience things that have or will never happen to you in real life. 

“When you watch TV or see a film, you are looking at things happening to other people. Prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world and people it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You’re being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you’re going to be slightly changed.

Empathy is a tool for building people into groups, for allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals. You’re also finding out something as you read vitally important for making your way in the world. And it’s this: The world doesn’t have to be like this. Things can be different.” – Neil Gaiman

There are a lot of addictions in the world. I am glad that this is what I grew to be addicted to.

Now when I tell my parents that I am reading, they know that it has shaped me into the person that I am today. And in a lot of ways, it’s because of them. If they hadn’t taken my books away, I wouldn’t have rebelled and become a reader.