“You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.”
That’s what Paul Sweeney had to say about good books and what it feels like holding one in your hands. The origins of this post finds itself in a recent conversation with one of my writer friend. Naturally, when you speak on writing, the topic of books is sure to pop up in your mind. That is precisely what this post is all about.
Reading is a fascinating hobby. It opens up your mind to new avenues and makes you aware of customs and traditions of different countries, cultures and religions with out actually visiting or experiencing the place. A good book challenges your intellect, asks bold questions, inspires you, rejuvenates you. However, this is where the question arises, what is a good book?
I can recollect how my parents, my teachers, professors and practically anyone from the past generation would implore me to read more and more. They are usually wary of the habits of the younger generation who spend more time on-line rather than off-line. They do have a point, I would say. Internet does make our lives easier but then it also makes us more lazier and more casual.
However, I should draw attention to the fact, that the previous generation were born and brought up in a time when rich literature used to be available in the form of good classic books. The books had a story-line which was so contemporary and had so much foresight, that they are relevant and valid even today. The books or ‘classics‘ as we can call them had a certain ‘WHAM‘ effect to them. The books actually hit you, in the face, on the head and on your intellect. They had everlasting effects which spanned almost a lifetime. The ideas and the thoughts presented in such books actually hit you and opened your senses to a different level of thinking. The careful use of words, sentence formation, hidden intricacies in between the lines and the overall structure, all had a certain charm to them. That was a golden era of writing, of any form.
Turning our attention to the present times, the ‘WHAM’ effect is on the wane. You would hardly find books which are of the level to be termed as ‘classics’. All writers are merely imitating each other. A scarcity of good books is proof of the fact that the intellectual levels and critical analysis of the people today are on the decline. All that everybody wants and gets is a thriller or an account of their college lives with lots of conversations in between or fiction that is not so relevant. I do agree that we need some form of light reading material occasionally but even that is not up to the mark. As humans, our intelligence is far greater than any other species on planet earth or the Milky Way for that matter. Good books are both an inlet and outlet of our creative analytic skills. It is high time that we had a second Renaissance. A revolution all across the globe which would produce the same effect as it had during the days of the earlier Renaissance. The world needs more critical thinkers, innovators, philosophers and more experts.
We might have gained literacy but we have not gained sufficient awareness.
I also agree with our previous generation that we, the youth, are to be blamed for poor reading skills. An average college goer hardly does any amount of reading, leave aside good reading. We cannot let technology coax us into slumber, after all we are the creators and masters of this technology.
On a parting note, all I would say is that the future is in the hands of the youth. If they are not intellectually stimulated, our future seems very bleak. So, go ahead and let a masterpiece from yesteryear induce a ‘WHAM‘ effect on you. Let the following words of Henry David Thoreau ring and echo in your ears and mind:
“A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.“