Why and how to cultivate the habit of reading

Reading books is considered one of the best habits everywhere and for good reason. Scientifically speaking reading enhances your cognitive abilities and makes you a sharper person. Gaining knowledge is another significant reason to read. In fact, this is one of the primary reasons why most successful people in all wakes of life are avid readers.

Here, however, we will explore reading advice shared by one of the world’s most prolific reader, the acclaimed literary critic and professor, late Harold Bloom. According to an fs.blog article, Bloom was capable of reading 400 pages in one hour without compromising comprehension and knew all of Shakespeare’s poetry by heart. Bloom was also an acclaimed author of over 50 books and editor of hundreds of anthologies.

In his book “How to Read and Why”, Bloom shares invaluable advice and wisdom about why and how one should read. Here’s presenting some striking and interesting advice from the book to make reading indispensable for you.

Reading is a healing pleasure

Reading is your best companion in solitude and “the most healing of pleasures”. Reading alleviates loneliness and helps you to know innumerable people, more intimately, something not always possible in real life. Reading offers you insights to relationships, that are extremely vulnerable and dynamic in passional life.

Comprehending the value of irony

Comprehending irony requires a larger attention span and the ability to endure colliding ideas. Irony is intrinsically associated with reading providing it elements of discipline and surprise. It is an extremely important aspect of life that helps in putting things into perspective, essential for knowing your inner self.

How to approach reading different genres?

The world of literature nurtures varied marvels – short stories, plays, poetry, novels, etc. The same approach of reading doesn’t work for all the genres. It is thus essential to approach different writing styles differently.

Short stories are more implied and requires the reader to be active and draw his own conclusions. It is best enjoyed with a streak of imagination and being ready for the unexpected. Poems demand more commitment from the reader. They are more enlightening when memorized and recited in solitude, for you cannot reach the true depths of a poem until it possesses you. About poems, Bloom expounds:

“Solitude is the more frequent mark of our condition; how shall we people that solitude? Poems can help us to speak to ourselves more clearly and more fully, and to overhear that speaking.”

Novels should ideally be same as reading poem or Shakespeare but when reading a novel, the reader brings himself/herself into the act of reading. We bring our opinions and thoughts into the novel and experience a reality similar to ours or of the society, and hence it depends upon your person to enjoy the novel.

Bloom emphasizes reading certain literary masterpieces including Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Dickens’ Great Expectations, Don Quixote, to cultivate the habit of reading and setting yourself on a course to make reading more pleasurable. Expounding on this, Bloom writes:

“There are parts of yourself you will not know fully until you know, as well as you can, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.”

Why Read?

Constant and deep reading is crucial to establish and augment your autonomous self. Through reading you gain knowledge about people, about social realities, about the past and the present that helps you become your most authentic self. And only when you become your true self can you be any good to the world.

In Bloom’s own words:

“Yet the strongest, most authentic motive for deep reading… is the search for a difficult pleasure…  I urge you to find what truly comes near to you, that can be used for weighing and considering. Read deeply, not to believe, not to accept, not to contradict, but to learn to share in that one nature that writes and reads.”

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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