How to read, and read some more…

“Read more”, said the MBA Guru.

You felt enlightened, ready to read all that came your way and bell the CAT tightly. But soon you find out that you don’t know where to start, what to read and how to keep reading that enormous book you just picked up!

Well, here is a short catalogue to help you get over the dilemma.

1) If you have never read a book in your life before: Start with Three Little Bears and Goldilocks, because it is never too late. You might also start with children’s magazines like Tinkle, but make sure that you read small articles along with the comic strips.

Once you have finished around twenty such children’s books, you might move on to books like Malgudi Days, Famous Five, Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew. These books are easily available in any public library.

Remember, starting a diet of books is a gradual process. There is no shame in reading children’s books for starters; avid readers today started off with them as well.

2) Reading Newspapers: It is indispensible. The following points should be kept in mind while reading newspapers :

· Skim all the headlines, but pick a few articles to be read in full length. Begin with two if you are not in the habit of reading newspapers daily.

· Read the complete Editorial/Opinion page. These are not direct reports; the opinions expressed by the writers are always up for debate.

· Every day, pick one important news report and one opinion article, and read more about it in other newspapers or on the internet.  Ideally, you should pick up the topics related to government policies, foreign policies, business news or economics policies. Avoid sensational news items such as hate speeches, political bickering or social intrigues.

For example: The following article appeared in The Indian Express by Mallika Shakya: (http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/in-the-spirit-of-south-asianism/)

India’s unofficial blockade of its Nepal border is a new episode in this continuum, and although there are early signs that this may be resolved, it will take some time for Nepalis to heal from this trauma.

The author is of the opinion that the blockade of traffic from India to Nepal by the Madhesis was orchestrated by our government.

The next step after reading this article should be:

· Look up information about the blockade: Who are Madhesis? Why are they blocking the border?

· Look up alternate opinion: Does our government really have a hand in the blockade?

In this way, you can generate your own opinion about the issue, which is the main purpose of reading newspapers in the end.

3) Popular Fiction for beginners:

· Chetan Bhagat

· Amish Tripathi

· Durjoy Dutta

· John Green

· Nicholas Sparks

· Stephanie Meyer

· Meg Cabot

· Dan Brown

· Jeffrey Archer

These books are stepping stones for those aspiring to improve their reading habits. Read these books to develop interest and habit of reading for longer hours. However, they should not be taken as an end to itself, rather as means to an end.

4) Advanced Fiction: Those who are already comfortable with popular English literature can move on to more intense reading. However, that does not mean you can start reading Shakespeare and Homer’s Odyssey all at once! Here are a few classics that short, critically acclaimed and interesting.

· To kill A Mockingbird

· Catcher in the Rye

· The Great Gatsby

· God of Small Things

· Pride and Prejudice

The older English classics by Dickens, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Hemmingway etc should be in the Ultimate Bucket List of every aspiring book-reader. However, they can be left untouched till you have gained enough patience to enjoy reading for long hours.

5) Reading Non-Fiction: Select books that are relevant to you and your surroundings. Non-Fiction includes self-help, history, economics, politics etc.

Do not let the size of non-fiction books discourage you. They are meant to be read over long periods of time. Many self help books require implementation before moving on to other sections.

Other non-fiction should be treated like newspaper reading- look up for yourself the opinions or facts mentioned in the book that you find interesting. These books are not intended to make subject experts of you, but to give an over-all view of the topic in question.

For example, if you have taken up a book about the history of Middle East crisis, then it is important to retain knowledge about role of the US or imperial powers in that region. However, it is meaningless to try and retain the dates and locations of several wars fought there. It is completely alright to skim over parts you find irrelevant or uninteresting.

6) Reading on the internet: Plenty of good quality material is available on the internet nowadays. It includes opinion blogs and community forums such as Reddit. Internet should be used as a supplement as often as possible to print media.

However, it cannot be used as an alternative to reading material by professional writers and opinion makers. Factually incorrect, badly written or sensational content without value can easily creep into online reading.

7) Post-reading: ‘Reading books’ does not only involve finishing one book after another with an academic zeal, rather it should be adopted as a hobby. Drop the book you do not like, do not set a time limit for reading daily or any such rigorous restraints that might put you off reading.

Reading books is just like watching TV in your head!

Look for book reviews or synopsis after finishing each book to gain interesting insights about the book and the author.

www.schmoop.com is one such website that discusses everything from the title and ending of the book in detail. Watch movies inspired by that book, and see for yourself how your imagination differs from that of the movie makers!

This article is part of PaGaLGuY’s innovative Internship programme for engineering students. Currently, two such programmes are on – one on Creative Writing, the other is a Certification on Digital Media. If you are interested in partaking and  bagging a certificate, besides learning the nuances of effective writing, mail us at wordslingers@pagalguy.com.

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