Posted in My World View, Random thots..

The Non-Fiction Reader


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It is a few months since I have been stuck in this persona of a non-fiction reader.

And this turn of events surprises me because there was a time in my life when I thrived on fiction. I would read almost a book every day – and get consumed by the ebbs and flows of all the action in those pages. In my teens, it was the Nancy Drews and Agatha Christies. The twenties started with the intensity of Ayn Rand – followed by Booker prize nominees and winners – Aravind Adiga, Amitav Ghosh,  Emma Donoghue, you name it. The only non-fiction books that sneaked into my reading list were celebrity publications. One that I distinctly remember is Shashi Tharoor’s ‘The Argumentative Indian’ – that one was like a workout for my vocabulary!

And then later, as screenwriters ran out of creative ammunition and the trend of books screenwritten into movies took over – The Twilight Series, Vampire Diaries,  Game of Game of Thrones, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I had always read the stories cover to cover before anyone had even heard of them on TV or Netflix.  Boy, was I ahead of the game!

But then, one fine day – the rush stopped.

It is hard to pinpoint what caused this, but there was this long phase when I didn’t do much fiction reading and the switch flipped.  I think that with time – you are more aware of your factual ignorance, and a lot of non-fiction reading I began with was to bridge that gap. Some of them – like ‘Homo Sapiens’ helped me understand my own roots.

And slowly my bookshelf filled up with the Ray Dalio, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Tim O’ Reilly and Malcolm Gladwells of the world. In fact – the last book I was hooked on to was  ‘The Society of Mind’ by Marvin Minsky  ( a friend of mine was appalled when I had tugged it along to a coffee shop – Seriously, this seems like a dense reading assignment you’d punish someone with, how can you read it for pleasure?!! )

Well honestly  – it was not an easy read. And even though the language was simple, I had to read it over, again and again, to connect the dots and get the message right.  Still, with my current frame of mind, it was easier for me to absorb than a work of fiction. Nowadays,  I pick up fiction books to read but it’s hard to follow along with the emotional threads and vagaries of a story.  I get exhausted and give up.

Surprising, isn’t it?

My guess is that after a while of practice –  facts and logic get hammered into your brain, and you almost start predicting what a logical argument will look like. There are, after all only a few ways in which you can get the logic right.  And somehow I observed that there is a lesser cognitive load in reading non-fiction- because is almost an extension of what I do in my day job.

Or… Perhaps I am going through a phase – you may say.

Whatever that is,  I would hate to lose that appreciation of fiction, poetry and intense emotions that a string of words can bring.  That’s what attracted me to the lure of reading in the first place!.

Those stories that can take you through a rollercoaster of thrill, happiness, hope, dismay, and laughter have burned timeless memories in my brain.  So many solitary, but memorable moments spent with a book – alone at times perhaps, but never lonely.

Which brings me back to the current state of things.

The long weekend is here –  I am struggling with Zadie Smith’s ‘Swing Time’ .. nursing a cup of coffee.. and fervently hoping that my Fiction reading bug comes back!

 

 

Image credits: Unsplash.com

Posted in My World View, Random thots..

Idea #4: Procrastination is good for you!


Fine. I’ll admit it.

Since the last two days, I was struggling with the Idea for this week. There were a few possibilities knocking in my head, but they somehow didn’t fit in. Desperate in need for a bright shiny idea, I made fanciful preparations to lure and ensnare it.

You know the regular routine… Turn off the TV. Adjust the lighting. Fix the cushions. Fill the coffee cup. Buckle down to write.

But pushing hard seemed to have the opposite effect. Nothing worked!.

So realizing the futility of it all, I let it go. Picked up a book from my to-read shelf and began reading… It’s surprising that in these moments, Idea #4 struck me.  And ironic as it may sound, it said – Procrastination is good for you!

Well… how many times have you hated yourself for procrastinating? Fussed over details and feared that the sky will fall off if you don’t act soon enough. Lamented on a time atrophied in utter lack of effort.

But then, have you noticed how you get sudden bursts of fertile inspiration after long fallow stretches of inactivity? Or have discovered surprising answers to questions that had simmered in your subconscious, in periods of idleness and solitude.

We consider procrastination to be something evil. The thief of time. The killer of productivity. The scourge of creativity.

But is it really so awful?

Maybe not. It could be a time spent thinking over, sharpening the axe, strategizing! A time getting prepared for all the wonderful things that have been locked in some precious corner of your brain, and required some catalyst to bubble out. A time to witness epiphanies, and assimilate the Eureka moments. A time to realize who you really are, apart from the needy pushy ambitious self that you keep pumping up eternally. A time to wallow in the sweetness of solitude, and the shy answers it brings to your overbearing questions.

If you think of it the other way round, “Procrastination is not the problem. It is the solution. It is the universe’s way of saying stop, slow down, you move too fast”. It is nature’s way of revealing things that you would never have unearthed yourself.

“It is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top”!

So the next time you procrastinate, don’t kill yourself with guilt. Look out for those subtle clues that might have evaded your conscious mind.

Did it ignite a spark in you, the seed of the idea which had eluded you all this while? Or a key element in a new path which had always dodged you and deemed impossible. Or did it suddenly dawn that the thing you were pursuing relentlessly all this while wasn’t worth it at all??

Yes, that’s what creators call epiphany… the eureka moment which will creep up shyly to you when you are alone. When you sit down and let it go. When you filter all the noisy channels and focus.

I can hear you asking – Focus on what?

And my answer is – Nothing.