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World Book Day 2019: Reading in the times of the digital age and top 5 ways to stay updated

Today there are more options of what to read and there’s no one genre that a person may decide to stick to. The one who has enjoyed all the works by JRR Tolkien is sure to pick up the Harry Potter series and the Game Of Thrones series in the fantasy genre.

books Updated: Apr 23, 2019 13:21 IST
Saumya Sharma
Saumya Sharma
Hindustan Times, Delhi
Book Day,World Book Day,World Book Day 2019
Reading in the times of the digital age and top 5 ways to stay updated. (@MasakaliBytes/Instagram)

What age were you when you held your first book and sat down with it? When the words made sense and you didn’t just have to skim through the pages looking for the pictures within the stories? I remember I must have been eight or nine years old when I gifted my first-ever novel - Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The habit soon turned into love into a long affair which turned to pining and then a strong need to get used to the ways of the past... The way we were.

Today there are more options of what to read and there’s no one genre that a person may decide to stick to. The one who has enjoyed all the works by JRR Tolkien is sure to pick up the Harry Potter series and the Game Of Thrones series (hopefully before the movies and TV shows got made). Either way, it’s not so bothersome, especially if the visual content has been done justice to. The best thing it might do is that the reader can put a face to the character’s name. Avid book-lovers might disagree, given that books let them imagine the physique, personality and characteristic of a certain character, while visually, what you see is the director’s imagination and his interpretation of a character.

Yes, the reading habit, an extremely important one is rarely seen amidst senior readers as much as the young ones. Sometimes there’s no replacement for the feel of a paperback or the smell of books (which has a name too), but as long as one is reading, the media should hardly matter.

As we evolve as readers, here are some of the things we can hope to see in the time of digital content, social media, web-series and more:

Web-series/TV shows: There are approximately 40+ OTT platforms in India at present and the number only continues to grow. The latest in the news is Disney’s OTT platform all-set to release soon. A lot of the audience that flocked to theatres nearly every weekend is choosing to stay back home to watch content online – either on their laptops or even a smaller screen. The writing of some of these shows is impeccable and a good way to build awareness and probably, one’s vocabulary. A well-researched, well-written and superbly executed show is the fodder one needs to keep the mind’s juices flowing.

Kindle and other reading on the internet: No, this isn’t a “5 things to know or to-do” sort of list. That doesn’t amount to anything for the mind except for some more noise in the middle of all the traffic already. The fan base for reading from a real book will probably never change/reduce, however; other media might just contribute to the wide range of ways to read.

Audiobooks and Podcasts: With several apps and sites going big on this concept, audiobooks are an interesting way to ‘read’ a book. It’s a new-age version of an elder in your family reading out a bedtime story to you which helped you sleep better. Podcasts, too, are a great way to listen to some of your favourite topics being discussed by experts who can lend their voice and their ideas for better living. The ones that interest me the most are all about life hacks, time management, creativity and more.

Social media: Not everything on social media has to be irrelevant content that doesn’t add to your knowledge in any way. One can actually hope to make a difference if they put their minds to it – even if it’s a smaller group to spread the word to. This could be a self-care page, something about personal growth or follow the pages that are sharing more than just snackable content. Watch videos with lessons, read articles that show that the writer has spent enough time and research on it and much more. Several websites offering online courses too are using the power of social media to get people interested in their study material that might be used to add more value to one’s resume. There are also some apps that let you save the links you can’t immediately read but can surely revisit when you can make time. Beware of a bad hoarding habit though, where one only amasses the links like a bird saving up for winter but doesn’t quite get anywhere close to it.

Paperbacks and hardbound books: Nothing can substitute this, ever. But when you can’t buy more books, because of space constraints – one of the many woes of living in a small space in a big city – find ways of joining book clubs or a library in the vicinity. You don’t have to buy these books then, just get them issued and keep a resolve to not have them repeatedly reissued, a practice to be more disciplined at how you want to lead your life, one with an abundance of books and other reading material.

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First Published: Apr 23, 2019 13:20 IST