Not too long ago, books used to be be derided as the calling card of the “uncool”: geeks, nerds and bookworms. Today, they have gained social acceptance, even patronage from people from all walks of life. With the negative connotation gone and the growing influx of new and exciting genres, books have come a long way. However, while working on my first draft, I often asked myself- are books still relevant today? Surely, new media forms offer all the benefits of books – and more?A little trip down memory lane made me realize that I couldn’t be further from the truth. For a myriad of reasons, books will always be relevant. Here’s what happened when I cut them off from my life:
I was an avid reader from the age of 7. True, I mostly read comics at the time, but hey, comics are books too. As I grew up, my reading also matured. Classics, mysteries, science fiction, romance… virtually no genre was left unexplored.
And then, at 15, the TV turned on its charm for me.
For the first time in my life, my love for reading faltered. My academic workload had significantly increased at the time, so I thought that a break from the old printed text would do me good.
That was my undoing.
Starting from a humble 30 minutes per day, my TV time escalated to an average fix of 2-3 hours per day. The appeal was obvious- all I had to do was sit back and blink. Virtually no interpretations, observations and intellect required. And voila! I was entertained.
Sure, I’d still pick up a book every now and then (even this stopped after a while), but the enthusiasm was gone. TV was now number one.
I even had a reason ready: reading is so slow and yesterday…who has the time for it? I actually believed this for a couple of years until a close friend pointed out that I had changed for the worse. I wondered what she was talking about, so I sat down and made a list of what all had transpired over the years. It was then that I realized how my harmless habit had seriously tampered with some aspects of my personality. Here’s what I found out:
1. My attention span had considerably lessened. Thank you, two minute breaks.
2. I hardly had anything meaningful to say when meeting friends or new people. Watching sitcoms definitely did not give me a new perspective on life.
3. My vocabulary was steadily shrinking. Unless, of course, stupid catchphrases counted.
I stopped right there, afraid to go any further. Why had things gotten so bad? I knew a lot of interesting people who watched the same shows that I did, so why was I the only one paying for it?
And then it hit me- all this was happening because I had given up reading.
With this realization in mind, I gradually began to read again. I don’t read nearly as much as I used to, still I have regained my attention span, thinking abilities and non-gibberish vocabulary.
Now don’t you agree that books are relevant even today? I can’t think of any medium that can educate and entertain so effectively, can you?
Yet of course, I still like watching TV. I just don’t overdose on it.