By Vijay Phanshikar:
Because of the general shortage of such people, it is always a great pleasure to come across a group of young readers eager for physical books and happy to discuss the content in all sincerity. Such an experience last week was worth storing permanently in memory. The episode began with a phone call from a boy who politely identified himself before opening up the conversation. He said, in effect, “I belong to a group of many young people who are deeply interested in reading books – real books, not virtual books. We meet regularly to discuss the books we read. Would you please join our meeting at a time of your choosing? Of course, the Big Thinker is aware of a few book clubs that have been running regularly for some time. But this group was only young people who insisted on continuing to read books and to exchange them among the members. Joining them to discuss books was certainly a matter of great pleasure. And the experience turned out to be really pleasant. At a time when young people seem to be turning away from books, meeting so many boys and girls avidly reading books has certainly been good. During the session, the Big Thinker found them picking out a book for detailed discussion.
The topic was quite heavy, but the quality of member contributions was really good. It was clear that those who participated in the discussion had thoroughly read the book and enjoyed sharing valuable responses about the content. After the discussion, the big thinker asked the members about their future plans – which, of course, were varied. Yet, as one said, indeed, “Sir, whatever we do in life, books will always be our companions.” Others nodded enthusiastically. “Where did you acquire such a love for books?” asked the great thinker. Quick came the response in a near chorus: “At home – and also from some teachers at school.” This answered all the questions – not just one – in one fell swoop. The habit of reading is inculcated only at a young age in most cases. The members of this group are fortunate to have acquired the habit of reading in their respective homes – as well as at school with certain teachers.
When a child sees elders reading books, they are more likely to pick up the habit. There may be occasional exceptions, granted, but the habit of reading in particular is acquired only in childhood. Such houses, unfortunately, are not many nowadays. And that’s why coming across groups of young people reading a book as an organized activity is so important. Chatting with the band members was certainly an invigorating experience, to say the least. Because they seemed to know a lot of things that people their age don’t usually know. They answered all questions correctly on many topics – without, of course, referring to their cell phones. The advantage of deep reading, so to speak.