Declining Culture of Reading Books

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Book reading culture has seen an abrupt and huge slump over the years. The question arises what actually has sounded a death knell to it?  The obvious and factual answer is certainly the influx of digital games and alluring nature of social media apps like Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, and Instagram inter alia. All these social media apps and sites due to their addictive charisma have enthralled and colonized us humans in a very strict and thorough manner and have forced us to sideline the books. Prior to the digital revolution and smart phone incursion, people used to read books, news papers, pamphlets, fliers etc. in order to engage and enlighten themselves. But now the situation is entirely different. Now, wherever we go, we see people glued to their smart phones. They while away their precious time on social media platforms and all that. Books have been shelved and in their stead virtual games and social media apps have taken the centre stage. Books have been imprisoned and kept in oblivion. It has so nicely been said by Samuel Butler that books are like imprisoned souls till someone takes them down from a shelf and frees them. Books need readers but unfortunately the people who are eligible enough to read them have been taken away by the glint and ephemeral glamour of smart phones and ultra attractive virtual games. Declining culture of reading books is sure to lead us to intellectual atrophy and inertia. Ray Bradbury, in his famous novel, ‘Fahrenheit 451’ so cogently says, “The problem in our country isn’t with books being banned, but with people no longer reading. You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”

It is very unfortunate and at the same time sad that we have shun the book reading culture for the sake of the things that guarantee no good for our society. Books are the treasure houses of knowledge. They acquaint us with the wisdom and culture of different communities, ethnicities, countries and also enlighten us about the knowledge unknown to us.  They also prepare us about the secure and safe future life. Reading can save us from going astray on the wayward paths. Books provide succour to lazy and inert minds. Reading is a staple of life, like bread or water. Or chocolate, so says, Rett Macpherson in his book ‘A Misty Mourning’. Books lying in the spacious libraries of the world actually contain the wisdom, knowledge and culture of the entire world. And reading these books may surely help us to live our life in the best possible way.  It is pertinent and germane to mention Victoria Lee who says, “When I read books, the boundary between my world and others shifted. I could imagine other realities. I envisioned the tales so clearly that it was as if I lived them. Reading books magnifies our understanding, broadens our imagination and empowers us in every respect. Book reading also sharpens our intellect and helps us to smarten us socially and culturally. Every man who knows how to read has it in his power to magnify himself, to multiply the ways, in which he exists, to make his life full, significant, and interesting, so says, Aldous Huxley.

Books are the best of the blessing conferred on us by the writers and authors. They are the priceless and dear gifts and mementos to the reading public on the part of those who wrote them. And we can only pay back to the writers only through reading. We should love to read books. It has been well said by Elizabeth von Arnim that everybody must love something, and I know of no objects of love that gives such substantial and unfailing returns as books…

We must consume more time on books and less time on those things that can perish and destroy our intellect and gray cells of our mind. In order to get going intellectually, we should restore the culture of reading books because they are the best supplements for our brains.  They make our mind fertile and prosperous.  We must keep in mind the quotable quote of James Russel Lowell. He says, “Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind.”  In order to get this metaphorical pollen we must read books.  If we want to save yourself from the being intellectually poor and petty, we need to revive the culture of book reading

Dr.Bilal Ahmad Dar works as a Lecturer (English) in School Education Department (J&K). He has qualified UGC NET and JK SET in English Literature. He can be mailed at: [email protected]


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