How to Read a Book?

If you are reading this post, then you are certain about the importance of ‘reading’.

To acquire knowledge with aim of increasing one’s understanding, is reading enough? The answer is yes, but the question remains, how?

We need to think about how we read and Mortimer Adler’s How to Read a Book is a perfect place to start with. Published in 1940, it immediately became a bestseller, and since that time the book has been updated many times, famously and notably by Charles van Doren in the 1970’s.

Most of the times, we think reading is something that you can do or you cannot – that is you can either read or not. The truth, however, is that reading is a skill that can be improved with knowledge and practice.

The goal of reading determines how you read. If you’re reading for entertainment, you’re going to read a lot differently and likely different material than if you’re reading to increase understanding. There’s nothing wrong in reading for entertainment but ask yourself, are you really learning anything new? Continue reading “How to Read a Book?”

Understanding Infinite Jest

David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest turned twenty this year and a year ago when  I reviewed it, I did mention that, I am quoting myself, Reading INFINITE JEST was a task waiting to be done for quite a long of time.” Indeed it’s a task. Reading any book above thousands pages, is a big task for me. Infinite Jest was first of its kind and one of its kind for me. After it, I had courage to read books like Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Dickens’ Bleak House, the list is a little bit longer than I expected.

Reading a massive novel means that a reader is willing to be attentive to a period of time in which he completes the task of reading that book. In this particular period, the reader’s attention span can be distracted due to daily activities and a thing called life. What tends a reader to read such massive works? (Another question can also be put here: what tends a writer to write such a massive work? But we are leaving the writing part for some time later.) Well, the one major factor I have found in every lengthy book is the start is important. The start of the text, is what will make a reader curious about it and such that the force of curiosity drives the reader to complete the book.

The start of Infinite Jest wasn’t extraordinary but it was enough for one to be engrossed to. Many might not agree, but that is how I felt since I have never read Wallace’s works before and neither had I read that kind of writing style. I seldom think about reading Infinite Jest one more time, however I know the outcome will be again, disappointing. It was the ending that did not work for me. Yes, the ending of any text is as essential as the beginning but it is not in my hands (or yours), to end a book in a way we want. The ending of the book does not at all depends on the few mere pages of what happens when to whom but it actually depends on the structure of the book.The structure of the book is essential to handle the complexity, if there are going to be a 1000 pages, there is going to be some complexity and not just words pen down in abstract manner. The structure of the book must cope with its characters regardless of the writing style of a writer. 

This is what Infinite Jest made me understand.


Which David Foster Wallace book have you read recently/last?

What do you think about massive books?

Check out this link: Five David Foster Wallace Essays You Should Read

The World of Crime Fiction

In Italy, people call a story that consist of detectives or crimes giallo, for the word yellow. The reason is that since 1930s mostly crime fiction books had yellow covers. The earliest known crime fiction book is over twenty pages and is written by Danish author Steen Steensen Blicher and published in 1829. It is called The Rector of Veilbye and is supposedly based on a true murder case from 1626 in Vejlby, Denmark. The story is in the form of diary entries by a character named Erik Sorensen whose focus is on a trial about an unexplained disappearance of a farm labourer and after fifteen years the bones are unearthed.

The evolution and popularity of the genre increased in late nineteenth century in UK and USA, offering cheap paperbacks and mass producing them. Author like Arthur Conan Doyle made a huge contribution in the development of this literary genre for the famous detective Sherlock Holmes. Continue reading “The World of Crime Fiction”

Five David Foster Wallace Essays You Should Read

The other day I was just hovering around the internet researching a bit on David Foster Wallace. After reading The Pale King, I was impressed by his versatile writing style of taking ordinary topics and characters and blending them together and turning them in an extraordinary experience for the reader. I cam across some of his essays which I think you should take a look.

Why Bother Reading More?

I usually read 90 to 110 books a year as I have only been recording  my reading habit through a widget on Goodreads.com called Yearly Reading Challenge from past four years. It’s fun thing to do, you get to know exact statistics like how many number of pages one has read in total or a graph showing books read by you in the year they were published. It can also go otherwise for some of us, like having no time to read, and your ‘yearly reading challenge’ displaying that you are 3 books behind your schedule. Then some of us might force our way to do so.

You are forgetting the whole point of reading. I do not read books for these mere statistics, I read books because of the benefits it offers. If you develop a habit of reading books, at least 5 to 10 pages a day, you will become smarter over the years, this self improvement thing is extremely important aspect for being an adult. A book doesn’t have to be a self-help rather a fiction, science or philosophical work which is full of ideas that you cannot gather by skimming articles reading online.  Continue reading “Why Bother Reading More?”

Reading books in the Digital Age

I’d like to thank you guys for sharing your experiences with reading ebooks on your e-readers in the post, Buying an EReader, Worth? Two weeks back, after taking in full consideration that an e-reader will be good for me, I finally got my hands on Kindle Paperwhite 2015. It’s good, lightweight, lighter than my smart phone. Reading continuously for hours, doesn’t strain my eyes any more and I am very glad with features distraction free-reading. No more email or messages to interrupt me if I am reaching a climax of some mystery.Twitter113961e

There are a lot of free ebooks available on websites like Project Gutenberg. Then there is an option for NetGalley lovers, to send the books they have been approved of, directly to their Kindle(s). Having multiple dictionaries on the go is a good option. Battery life is good, haven’t really tested it. The testing part is still in progress but I have read five books on it since the day I have bought it and got it fully charged before doing any reading and the battery bar is still there, hanging around 20 to 25 percent.

Another feature that fascinate me is the “Reading Time”. The device calculates the reading speed, taking into account, how many words you read in a minute which may vary depending on the complexity of the text, (like reading Milton’s Lost Paradise or Dante’s The Divine Comedy) but there is an average that it will continue to do so. If the book is in Kindle Format, that is azw/azw3 or DRM free like mobi, it will show the time remaining in completing the chapter and the book separately along with amount of book you have read in percentage.  Continue reading “Reading books in the Digital Age”

Anne Lamott On Writing

Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some instructions on writing and life is among my favourite books on writing. It’s both practical and profound, light- reading, witty, and humorous at the same time. Published in 1994, this book still has a lot to offer to anyone with a creative pursuit and I consider it as timeless and a valuable piece of written words, exhibited rationally.

Lamott starts on considering writing as a sense making mechanism:

One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches by and tramps around.

Lamott, throughout the book take into consideration that who ever reading this book is a part of her class or a workshop and pursue this type of narrative throughout the book, till she has dismissed the class. She begins her class by advising her students on where to focus when starting to write:

‘I don’t even know where to start,’ one will wail.

Start with your childhood, I tell them. Plug your nose and jump in, and write down all your memories as truthfully as you can.

[…]

Start by writing down every single thing you can remember from your first few years in school. Start with kindergarten. Try to get the words and memories down as they occur to you. Don’t worry if what you write is no good, because no one is going to see it. move on first grade, to second, to third.

[…]

Write down everything you can remember about every birthday or Christmas or Seder, or Easter or whatever, every relative who was there. Write down all the stuff you swore you’d never tell another soul.

[…]

Scratch around for details: what people ate, listened to, wore—

Continue reading “Anne Lamott On Writing”