I was (one of the) topper(s) in my sweet little school, until 4th standard. Plump, pink and successful, I could have easily been the youngest playboy in the world, adored by female creatures of all age, sizes and species. But life, as I knew it, changed when I joined a new school. I failed in half my subjects in the first cycle tests in this new school. And as it turned out, it was difficult being a playboy once you grow up, specially when you are still plump, and unsuccessful. My earlier school was an average institution, with no emphasis on spoken/written English. That is what pulled me down in this new place.
Eventually my performance in other subjects improved a little, but in English I could never do well. I did not know how to form sentences or to express as I would have wanted to. And conversing in English was an another story altogether, I just couldn’t manage to speak more than four words consecutively. Then two years later I made friends with a guy who had a thing for books. He would read 4 books in a week on an average and had a large collection (which only grew with time). As we came closer (okay this sounds gay), his book-reading habits rubbed on to me.
I made full use of his collection and our school library. I had no lack of sources and supplies, which I exploited to my heart’s content. Our school librarian and I shared the same ancestral village and I was still plump (it works with teachers even if you are 80 year old). She would issue three, sometimes four, books on my library card and many times I would get books even without a card, which means an instant death penalty if caught, by school standards. I had to keep my mouth shut and smuggle away those books discreetly.
So where am I now? Well I passed out as the Headboy of my school and find myself capable enough to write this piece for you to read. The ascent from a failure to my present situation is quiet a thing. And what part did my reading habit play in it? My motive behind this is not to force you into reading, but just to inform you about what you are missing out. My motive is just to ensure that when you don’t take up reading, due to any reason, you are making an informed choice.
The benefits of a good book reading habit is no myth. And its effect becomes visible only within a month of starting (unlike jogging/running, I have lost all hope of losing weight). Reading, much like movies, gives you an insight about people’s way of living in parts of the world other than yours, but in much better detail. It will provide you with ideas and bring you in direct contact with the great minds through the written word. But just reading isn’t enough. I read somewhere that an average reader can read 3 books in a month. That means 3*12*50 books in your lifetime. so it is not just about reading, it is about reading the right books too. This particular statement will resonate more with CAT achievers.
Reading is not just for the sophisticated, it is for everyone. It is for all those who want to work reach higher than they are capable of and for those who are curious. Contrary to what people usually believe, and thus provide as an excuse, a reading habit can be cultivated at any age. Start with the easy ones, the ones which are absolute fun to read. And then as you grow more and more comfortable, you can venture into taking up something unconventional. Before you know it, you will be hooked. Soon you will be speaking in a different language altogether, strewn with better words, and of course refined ideas.
Remember, the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is just “Extra”. Read and gain that extra edge. Each one of us has the potential to shine.
After all, we are all made of Starstuff*.
*Reference: Cosmos, Carl Sagan