June 22, 2014
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Reading is, you could say, a rapidly diminishing hobby. Now-a-days, very few people from the “gen next” are seen reading a good novel or book. Why? Let us try to find out.

When asked why they don’t like to read novels, which are, for the most part, frightfully gripping and interesting, most teenagers reply, “Because I hate reading.”

If you persist and ask them why exactly they hate reading, then a few explain, “Because it’s so time-consuming, and those books are so thick and dull-looking.”

Well, they obviously haven’t heard the one about not judging a book by its cover. I remember, when I was in standard seven, I loved reading. My apartment had this kind of miniature-library, which was, in fact, a showcase full of books, from which the residents could borrow some. I, being an ardent reader, had read all the Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and even Sidney Sheldon books (yes, I was a Sidney Sheldon reader when I was in standard seven). Then, I looked at “Sons Of Fortune” by Jeffrey Archer. It was a thick book, which I didn’t mind, but the cover illustration looked terribly dull. I read the back-cover blurb, and that looked promising, but I suspected that it might be a political story. I flicked through the pages and liking the font size, (I have an aversion to small font-sizes for some inexplicable reason) took the book home, since I had nothing to lose anyway.

The book turned out to be amazing, and suddenly, I was a Jeffrey Archer fan. Turns out the story was political, but instead of that turning me against the book, it made me a fan of political thrillers. That, my friends, is the magic of a good book.

Now, getting back to the topic at hand, (which is not my love for Archer’s work) most teenagers today do judge books by their covers. Now, that is a huge problem, because if someone has decided that they don’t like a book, then even if someone begs them to read the book, swearing all the time that it’s good, they will never like it.

Besides, they are actually repelled by voluminous novels. This I simply fail to understand, however much I think about it. I mean, I don’t get it, why can someone not like a book simply because it’s thick? I personally have never had this issue, even with school books. I might hate the subject, but I won’t dislike it any more on account of the book’s thickness. Besides, if a good book is thick, isn’t that actually better, because you get to read more of it?
Usually, after having read a novel, I find myself wishing that it would never end, because I get so involved with the story. I love Ken Follett because he writes really large novels (you know, Pillars Of The Earth and World Without End), and find myself cursing Paulo Coelho, because all his books end way too soon and way too beautifully, compared to what I would have liked in a story that was to get over so soon.

Continuing with the issue at hand, these aren’t the only reasons why teenagers don’t read books. They also say that they have too little time. Now, that is another thing that I fail to understand. From what I’ve experienced, once you’ve found yourself a good book, you don’t need time. The stars will align themselves so that you can somehow find time to read your beloved book, be it at school or in the bus, or before going to sleep, or even just after waking up.
You will somehow find the time for reading a book that you want to read, because once you get reading, you get sucked into the wonderful world of the book, and simply cannot leave. You will stay up all night, just so you can finish reading the book. It will become absolutely irresistible, and you will have to finish reading it, for the peace of your soul. That’s just the way things work.

Besides, reading speed doesn’t matter either. If you find yourself a good novel, say, a Jeffrey Archer, then you will finish reading it within a week even if you read painfully slow. I’ve experienced that first-hand. I’ve never been a slow reader, but, well, there have been times when I’ve been ill, or confined to a bed for other reasons, such as a fractured leg. It is difficult to read fast while lying completely flat on your back, or with your head pounding, or when you’re feeling terribly weak and drowsy, but, well, you somehow manage. In spite of the above mentioned conditions, I always managed to finish reading whatever book I’d laid my hands upon, within a week.

Apart from the obvious advantages of reading fast, it doesn’t hurt that book-lenders are happy to lend you books, too. They always like someone who returns their book soon, and without tearing it apart.

Well, now, let’s change course and discuss why teenagers should read.
First, it’s an excellent hobby. Most teachers and parents say so, and we all agree that reading is a much better thing to do, than sitting in front of the computer all day, talking to people on Facebook or watching TV.

Secondly, reading has its advantages, for example, it increases a person’s knowledge, improves vocabulary and makes a person quieter, which is something all parents would love to inculcate in their children. It improves one’s grip on language and makes them better as individuals, given that they read the proper books, such as books by Jeffrey Archer and even Dale Carnegie. Sure, Carnegie’s books aren’t fiction, but they’re an interesting read and very, very useful.
Now, let’s get to the chief issue: How to get the kids these days to like reading?

Now, that’s an extremely difficult question, one to which I didn’t have an answer initially, because if you think about it, it does seem like quite an impossible task. You can only force them to read books, which will not help them even a tiny bit. So, after a lot of thinking, I came upon an idea: If teenagers were somehow made to believe that books are a “cool” thing, then they would fall over themselves to read them.

Take the example of Twilight, or Fifty Shades Of Grey, or even books by Durjoy Datta (who writes terribly, as I’ve witnessed from experience). Most teenagers today have read those books, Twilight because of its silly story about vampires and werewolves which the teenagers somehow decided was “cool”, Fifty Shades Of Grey because of its sexual nature, and Durjoy Datta’s books because he writes in a way which appeals to the Indian youth-using crude, vulgar terms, and over-amplifying the sexual theme.

So, getting back to the point, if the teenagers were made to believe that reading books is ‘cool’, then they would immediately take to reading, even if they’d hated the idea an hour back. And it’s really quite easy to make them believe so. Imagine, if your favourite movie star, or pop star praised a particular book, wouldn’t you feel like reading it, just to find out what kind of thing he/she likes?

I’m sure you would. So, all it would take to change a trend is a tweet from Britney Spears or Eminem or any other celebrity, praising a book which they’ve read. But oh, well, it looks like they don’t read many books either-and that, my friends, is something that I absolutely do not feel we can do anything about.

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