I went to the mall the other day to meet a friend. I was early and to kill time, I walked into a bookstore. I ended up buying four books, and even started reading one of them until my friend arrived, late as always.
And now, all four books are perched on my bookshelf along with a heap of other paperbacks waiting for the day when I will finally get around to reading them.
Don’t be mistaken. I read books. I love reading books. I’m currently on page 72 of Milan Kundera’s Life Is Elsewhere. But the honest truth is that I’ve been stuck on page 72 for over a month. Or has it been two months? I can’t be sure.
Reading is definitely a hobby and whenever I talk of my list of interests, I’m always sure to mention books. But in reality, I can’t remember the last time I actually sat down and read one.
The Japanese language even has a word for this condition. Tsundoku, they call it. ‘The condition of acquiring reading materials but letting them pile up in one’s home without reading them’.
It’s not that we’re trying to show off or build a bookshelf, it’s just that we buy books in the firm belief that we will someday get around to reading them.
Unfortunately, someday never comes.
So what happens? What stops us from doing something we evidently love and look forward to? Well, for starters, life happens. There’s just so much to do that reading always takes a backseat.
Also, reading – despite the joys that come with it – is a strain on the eyes. And considering the time we spend peering into our phones and laptops and televisions, reading is a lot of effort at the end of the day.
Another problem, especially in my line of work, is that we end up reading a lot of stuff online. There’s so much content on the internet that all my reading activity these days happens on the world wide web.
But nothing comes close to the feeling of actually holding a book in your hands and turning the pages as you devour its contents, like back in the old days.
But all said and done, the fact of the matter is that someday is never going to come around. That dreamy Sunday afternoon when you cuddle up on the couch with a book and a warm cup of coffee is never going to happen, unless you make it happen.
Set a timeline, maybe. Start small. One book a month or if you’re feeling particularly ambitious, one every fortnight. But read. Read a little everyday. Every night before you sleep, if you don’t have time during the day. Read a couple of pages when you’re on the pot, if that’s what it takes. But read.
And once you get into the groove, once you rediscover the joys of reading, maybe just maybe, you’ll find yourself falling in love with reading all over again. You’ll find yourself carrying a book everywhere. And then, slowly the pile on your bookshelf will lessen.
And on that note, let me wind this up, dust that copy of Life Is Elsewhere and turn to page 72.