Overcoming a Reader’s Block

I realized I had hit a reader’s block after I read about it somewhere. I was not aware of it’s existence, let alone being in one.

I read for sometime before I go to bed. At least I used to. Its another thing that my daily routine has gone for a toss since the past 6 months. Then I had time but I was not able to focus on a book for long. I had just completed Shantaram and quite honestly, the last part dragged. I was looking forward to read something else. But it persisted — I could not concentrate while reading.

I’ll cut a long story short. The problem, as I found out after much thinking, was Tolstoy’s War and Peace. I had started reading it and did so with all my sincerity and thought I was doing a commendable job too. (I still think that.) But one has to admit, the first thirty pages of a book thousand pages long and written in the 19th century, won’t be, by any means, an exciting read in modern times.

It was kind of okay and things were fine while I was content at flipping 2 pages (of fine print, I must mention) per session. Problems happened when I started to seek other books to read for my daily kick of “modern literature”. So everytime I read “something else”, it was as if Tolstoy was right there, staring at me, reminding me of the 1000 pages of fine print and what lay before me. It was quite overwhelming. Had Aditya, the ever insightful and accurate reader, finally found a match?

Okay, that last line was tongue in cheek.

A phone call to a writer friend eventually helped matters. She told me that I should not think of reading Tolstoy for now. Tell you what — I had this thing in my head for long but was not being submissive about it to myself. So I said it aloud — “Its okay to have a book and not read it for years!.” The already unread books notwithstanding, I went to the bookstore and got myself a Bryson’s book. (“A Short History of Nearly Everything”, highly recommended.) Now, Bryson is easy reading and I should do well not to think of my new found urge to read as a war won but yes, for now, I do want to read.

Oh and how do you judge if you “want” enough? Simple. If while doing things that you normally do when you are not reading (and those must be lots) you find yourself thinking about the book; your thoughts flirting with the subject or the plot — then you should know that you are the reader every writer seeks.

So, while I zip through the pages written by a new found author I intend to read every book of, I must keep in mind that there are books like Garcia’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and Ghosh’s “The Imam and the Indian” in my bookshelf and there is much pleasure still to discover as I yearn to go to stories told by writers who have made literature such an essential part of me.

No Goodbyes to all that.

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