Saturday, 8 September 2012

When literature becomes an escape into living


I like to read books .There was a time when I would  regularly  borrow books from  school library  and read them , often a book a day .It was generally a book of fiction .Over the years , I started reading books on philosophy , management, self help as well as fiction .Often ,there were  long gaps in reading books , so much so that my reading was confined to reading  official reports , magazines , self help books and newspapers .Only once in a while , I was inspired to read a novel or a  book on philosophy .My "to read" list became longer and longer .
           Recently , I read "Tolstoy and the Purple Chair  - My Year of Magical Reading" by  Nina Sankovitch.It is a memoir .It  vividly  reminded me that the literature is there "to connect us to our truest selves." I loved this book .It  brought me back to my habit of reading  books.But unlike Nina , I have decided to read and review one book in a week .And I intend to continue it for long .
        Nina Sankovitch could not cope with the loss of her sister , whom she loves very intensely .To overcome her grief, she decided to read one book a day for one full year .She  also decided to review every book that she read on the same day and post it on her blog ReadAllDay.org.She started reading a book a day from her Forty Sixth birth day .Her four  children and her husband agreed to give her this as a  birth day gift , by supporting her on this project.After the end of one year , Nina is fully back into life  with a better understanding of self and the world .In the process , she indirectly establishes the restorative power of literature .We read not to eascape from living , but to escape into living. (Cyril Connolly"The Unquiet Grave").The 365 books that she read in one year from October28,2008 to October 28,2009 are published alphabetically at the end of book.
              Nina chose books of 200-280 pages which she could finish in one day .These were fiction as well as non-fiction .She admired not only the message of the book she read but also its style and choice of words.In fact , her own style is very captivating and has a  spontaneous flow .Her speed of reading is about 70 pages an hour .Mine at present is 30 pages an hour .Perhaps , it is good to read slowly .
             I find that most of the books quoted by Nina are fiction . Fiction helps us to discover and help self more than the self help books .In fact , self-help books are based on generalizations , and are  therefore less  precise .In works of fiction , we have a better camaraderie with the author.Nina  also keeps a "Quotes Journal" where she notes the interesting and insightful quotes from the book she just read .Then she shares these with others through her reviews.
 I recommend you to read this beautiful book , written in an honest and emotional style .It has inspired me to revive my habit of reading books , which I had nearly lost in the humdrum  routine of life.