Developing Book Reading as a habit- Abhijeet Sinha UPSC 19th Rank 2017

Developing Book Reading as a habit

We will all remember corona for the hard luck it brought to all of us. I am no different. There is so much to complain about. Developing Book Reading as a habit

But, I am thankful for one thing. Corona and the lockdown has brought me so much closer to the books. I know, reading books looks so old fashioned, and time consuming in a world where Netflix and Hotstar are the new norm. 

Till recently, I too was a part of that brigade.I gave myself so many excuses, why not to read. One, it was indeed time consuming, and came at the expense of my more ”productive” activities like using Social Media and netflixing !  Perhaps, I somehow also had a notion, that I know enough, and there is no need to read much more. Lastly, in UPSC preparation I had read so much, that I wanted to keep myself away from the books.    

But, with corona, and once things settled resulting in limited work, I was forced almost grudgingly to look back at books.

I took up a title called When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. This was about the sensations of a famous Doctor in USA, who has been diagnosed with a Terminal Cancer, and he knows he is going to die soon. It was poignant that would leave anyone of us wet eyed. But the book gave me many lessons on life. 

The book was a good start. My excuse that books won’t teach a lot, no longer held. I wanted lessons. I wanted more to learn and explore. And I wanted to know about so many things that I had little knowledge about. That is when I kept up picking books, one after the other.  Not aiming really to complete a checklist, but more to learn more about the various dimensions, about which I had no idea. 

So I Picked up, ” Why we Sleep ? “ by Matthew Walker. It’s a wonderful read, that taught me how ,contrary to our beliefs, sleep is  one of the strongest of all medicines, that heals us physically, mentally, emotionally and logically. To all UPSC aspirants out there, I would like to say, if there is 1 book you should all read, it is this book. It’s an investment with very high rewards. 

Every book 1 picked up taught me so much. Rujuta Diwekar, “Don’t Loose your mind, loose your weight” taught a way to eat better. Mel Robins “ 5 second Rule” taught me about courage and confidence Dale Carnegie’s classic book on How to Influence People taught about the art of communication and persuasion. George Clanson’s classic The Richest Man in Babylon helped to know about Personal Finance. Siddharth Mukherjee’s Pulitzer winning ”The Emperor of All Maladies“ shed lights into the unknown world of cancer.

My personal favourite though was Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. Don’t go by the name. It’s more about happiness and priorities, blending Buddha’s teachings with modernity, showing a much better way of life 

There were some fiction too, like Paul Cohelo’s best seller, The Alchemist and the Clifton Chronicles by Jeffery Archer. 

Whatever the category, I realised reading books opened my way of thinking. It made me expand my knowledge about domains like sleeping, eating, exercising ; some areas which we usually take for granted. The more I read, I realised how little I knew. Yet, the more I read, the more content I became. 

It was better than watching online series because it was in a way interactive. I read, I pondered and I assimilated. For the mind, it was more refreshing. And, unlike TV series, I did not feel like being trapped in a story, wishing for it to be over, yet not being able to turn the switch off. Plus, reading from hard copy or from my Kindle device meant that my eyes didn’t hurt. Kindle further provided the advantage of convenience, since you can carry thousands of books into it.

Book reading for UPSC aspirants

I realise many of you reading are UPSC aspirants, who have little time for reading books for leisure. I do not disagree with you. But, reading books is a very good hobby. It is easily possible to do it, half an hour / 1 hour a day, even when you are doing the most serious preparation. It is lesser than the time you spend on social media and helps you freshen your mind. It will also help you to develop a hobby, that you can fill in your DAF for interview. For the freshers, it is nice way to start your preparation.

Some books can directly help in your preparation too, in your GS as well as in the essay, such as

To save time, you can use, Amazon Audible subscription which provides 1 audio book free every month for the next 6 months. This helped me to listen to books while I was doing my daily chorus. Developing Book Reading as a habit

Book reading started centuries ago. It will continue for centuries hence. The format may change. From handwritten books to hard bounds to paperbacks to today’s world of e-books on Kindle and audio books, books have evolved. But they are unlikely to wither away any time soon. Rather they will chart out a path for the civilisation in the millenniums to come 

This was my take on book reading. Let me know, what books you would recommend to me. Waiting for your responses. Developing Book Reading as a habit

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