Sure, e-books and e-articles are gaining popularity. But this only goes on to show that reading, irrespective of the format, continues to interest and inspire us

A good book is a priceless friend that keeps you company, teaches and inspires you, and is fun to be with. In this speedy life, a book allows you to stop and soak in life through others’ experiences and opinions.

Readers are a varied lot — there are those who savour magazines or books, ones who are hooked to reading on the Internet (blogs, articles), those who’ll read even the newspapers that bajjis and bondas come wrapped in, and ones whose reading does not go past tweets and Facebook posts. Sure, the numbers of e-books and e-articles are increasing, but so too the power of the written word, irrespective of its format.

Why do we read?

Reading can take us places we would not otherwise go. We can learn about the life of a Navajo Indian living on a reservation in Arizona or a Mexican-American teenager in a town where nobody else speaks Spanish. Reading introduces us to philosophies, religions, culture and customs that are unfamiliar to us. The right book at the right time can spark a desire to learn a language, play an instrument or even alter your career path.

Whether you lose yourself in a drama, thriller or romance, fiction temporarily allows you to escape daily worries. Self-help books and personal blogs let you know there are other people dealing with similar issues, give you perspective.

An article online, newspapers or magazines widen your perspective on any issue — from fashion to business. Articles shared online and informative blogs just about any topic make for interesting reading. Everyone has different experiences growing up, leading different lives, observing a variety of people, and has different perceptions and approaches to things. These reflect in their writings. When we agree with what’s said, it spawns a sense of similarity and empathy , and when we don’t, it challenges our opinions and impacts our ability to think, question, engage and analyse.

Reading also fosters creativity by introducing us to new art forms and new ideas. One of the most powerful aspects of reading is that when we learn about what other people have done, it makes us think about what we ourselves can do. Reading inspirational stories about achievers motivates us to do more. Managing director of Rupa Publications, Kapish Mehra says, “Being in the industry, we keep abreast of books intrinsic to an individual’s growth. One should absorb the written word that allows one to reflect, boosts growth, and expands understanding of things.”

Best-selling author of the Shiva Trilogy, Amish Tripathi who enjoys reading non-fiction philosophy, credits his love of reading to the atmosphere he grew up in. The author who also enjoys watching movies thinks there is a different beauty to reading. “In a movie, you view the director’s imagination, but when you read a book, you fill the mind with your own imagination. While reading, you stop, absorb and think.”

Author Anuja Chauhan says, “Most importantly, reading increases empathy. It broadens not just your horizon, but also the way you look at things, people and situations. You get other perspectives besides just your own. It makes you respect other viewpoints and a more valuable member of society.”

Young readers

The trick is to let kids discover their area of interest in books, instead of always passing our reading lists of ‘good literature’. This way, what they read would resonate with them. Later, they can be encouraged to consider different topics and ideas.

Devaki Gajare, founder of Little Reader’s Nook, says, “Children love to emulate their parents. Read your own books too and let your child see you enjoy them. Choose children’s books that you are excited about, fill your home with a variety of good books, make a trip to the bookstore or library a fun event for the entire family, give books as gifts — your child will catch on eventually.”