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Reading then and now

As a schoolboy, I recollect the indescribable pleasure I would get when presented with an Enid Blyton. With great gusto and appetite would I lap up her series on Malory Towers and the mysteries solved by the Famous Five. So were Chandamama and illustrated comics featuring the likes of Tarzan, Mandrake, Tintin, Phantom, Tenali Raman, Akbar and Birbal, the Pandavas, the tales from Panchatantra, the Reader’s Digest and so many more.

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I cannot forget the sheer joy of being taken to the bookshop by my father after the school examinations were over, before the long train journey from Delhi to Kerala. The characters in these books would set off “flights of fancy” in my young mind. I remember identifying myself with some of the protagonists. To make an improvised hammer and swing it around like Thor, the God of Thunder, was an experience full of thrill, even if it was a touch perilous for people near me.

Later as I grew up, I got introduced to the pleasures of Wodehouse, Perry Mason, Agatha Christie, the plays of Shakespeare, and the story telling of Tagore and Rider Haggard. The racy novels of Alistair Maclean, Frederick Forsyth, James Hadley Chase and the like would, in later years, be complemented by the likes of Dostoevsky, Leon Uris and even what may be considered in today’s times as the “slow-moving” Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte or Arthur Conan Doyle.

I guess the advent of Internet, the plethora of social media platforms, preponderance of the electronic medium, the reach of technology, the faster pace of life have contributed to this rapidly declining habit! Most children these days prefer the comfort of a YouTube presentation to the reading of a book! In these days of minimised attention spans, “reader fatigue” has become common. Long texts and assiduously constructed sentences are not just passe but often considered a “waste of time”. A voluminous book is much more likely to put off people now than earlier!

ashokwarrier27@gmail.com


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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 12:34:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/reading-then-and-now/article35117548.ece

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