Friday, June 02, 2006

Speed Living

How many books have you read in May? 1? 5?
Have you rushed to read "A New Earth"?
Have you read all of Agatha Christie? Harry Potter?

I hear such questions often and stop to wonder. Each question represents a family of questions intending to reveal how voracious a reader you are, or how up-to-date you are or how much of a fan you are. But hardly does one ask questions to discuss how earnest a reader you are. Earnest is reading with all your heart and mind and body (oh! the body goes beyond the eyes and the hands holding the book!).

Have you read a book with all your heart and mind and body?
Have you tasted the words in a story?
Have you heard the tinkle and rustle of words like "tinkle" and "rustle"?
Have you heard the gruffness and whisper of characters in the stories you read, or were they quickly spat out in the hurry to know how the story ended and the next book picked off the rack?

In the omnipresent hurry of living, I realise that books and reading have also fallen victim to the crazily whirring hands on the clock. Books are meant to be relished and loved. Don't read a book you don't like if all it would give you is an entry into the literati! I love Woody Allen's quote in this regard:

I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.

And to what benefit? Wouldn't it be better to have read but 5 books in a life time, but each one relished like your own child? To no avail is the grand title of a well-read man when all he might recall is the title, author and little else. If you could relish books and read many of them, I would like to meet you and learn how. A book is a relationship and I wonder how one can live it quickly. I shant go into the state of relationships as each one of us wears a different lens, but I beg you to read a book in order to make it a mate. Read deeply, imagine the character saying it, wonder what you would have said in reply to that character, be childlike in having clear emotions of love and hate for the characters who dance their lives across the page over the bumps of "m"s and deep valleys of "y"s.

But this involves spending time and a lot of it. Don't treat a book like an I-charge-by-the-hour shrink does his patients. Read the first few pages, and close your eyes. The scene should form and the birds should fly across the sky and the cars whizz past concrete stalagmite. You should be able to hear the lady speak and the child whine (and later stop a friend to say "My, you sound so much like Ms. Bovary"). Isn't life but the various fabrics of romance run through the ornate curtain ring called "I"?

If books have lost the time that was bequeathed to them, I wonder, what next.


  1. Well said, Eroteme...Time was when our friends back home used to accuse our whole family of speaking of fictitious creatures as though they were breathing and living human neighbours thronging our daily lives.

    ...And, as always, your writing delights with dances "across the page over the bumps of "m"s and deep valleys of "y"s"...

  2. there are some authors, nabakov for instance, who make u feel like saying 'lolita' by the way he describes it. now that, dear eroteme, is writing... the reader is not always to blame. the writing has to pull u in, make u close ur eyes, and wrap the words in the swirl of ur tongue....

  3. Anonymous4:16 PM

    Yes that is so much true.. I've also realised this. I just remember the titles and abstacts of the books I just skimmed through. But then there are others with whom I have lived... I've spent days of my life with the characters.. I have been with them. Those books have become pages of my life....

  4. Dear P,
    Indeed such times were wonderful. Glad you liked this post! :-)

    Dear M,
    Nabokov! Aaaah! That man knew how to weaken the knees and make me realise how far from being a writer I am... :-(
    Undoubtedly the writer has to pull you in, but do you search for such writers? I think accommodating mediocrity is an issue...

    Dear Anon,
    Would love to hear about those books which paginate your heart and your very living being...