How many of you read in the kitchen? Not quite the usual place to read, I know. I’ve obviously spent a lot of time in the loo with comics and those unputdownable thrillers, moreso since on many occasions as a kid I could not focus on my studies till I finished a particular story or confirmed by suspicions about the identity of the murderer… and the loo provided the perfect hideaway to do so.
But the kitchen definitely holds more memories for me. I remember my mother would make me read my story books out loud. Doubts and pronunciation would be cleared and clarified immediately. I’d either be on the kitchen platform with my legs swinging, or seated on a stool, and of course, I would get to be the official taste tester for her. The last time I read in the kitchen with her was in 2014 when I picked up my first by Gabo. Shockingly late in life, I know. But better to be late than never, ain’t it? Anyhoo, I had picked up Love in the Time of Cholera, and upon reading the first page I was in love. Actually, in a daze. His words flow with a brilliance of their own. They captivated me completely. I was in a trance. And I ran to the kitchen to read out the first page to my mum. A long-lost reader, it’s my mum who inculcated the habit and love for reading in me. But thanks to life, she couldn’t read the way she would in her earlier years. Hopefully, once she retires, she’ll get back to reading.
Now in 2020, with the lockdown and the pandemic pushing me to spend more time cooking, which I detest and find frustrating on certain days, I’ve started to pick up a book once again in the kitchen.
Waiting for the oil to heat, read a few paragraphs, waiting for the onions to cook, read some more, waiting for the curry to bubble and come to a boil, read a page. Life will always move steadily forward, and ten thousand things will get added to the to-do list. Work and life will become ever demanding, but I know I need to find ways to continue reading as much as humanly possible.
When my brother passed away in 2012, there were at least a couple of years when I did not or could not pick up a book. Something inside me had died, and because I couldn’t put my mind to reading, it messed me up even more. For person who loves to read, the inability to find refuge between pages was crippling in a way. And I really had to force myself back into the reading game.
What helped? The Hindustan Times’ Brunch Book Challenge. I’m not sure when it started but I took it on in 2014. And it paid off. It was exciting and my reading mojo definitely came back. I think in the 2014 edition, one had to read 24 books and the number got ramped up by six more in the following year. In these two years, I read 25 and 40 books, respectively. In the subsequent years, I didn’t take part in any more reading challenges cause by then I got very selective in the books I read and the pace I follow. I had found my groove. I did not want to read books just for the heck of a number, and it’s because I had reached a place where I was comfortable with my reading ability.
There are numerous articles out in the deep dark web on how to read more books and I unconsciously tried a number of those methods, such as being a part of a book club, using Twitter and Goodreads to keep a check on my reading list and pace, always having a book at an arm’s distance, trying to read everywhere – be it in the metro or while waiting for my friends at cafes and restaurants, starting with light books like thrillers and horror stories, and even ditching books that do not connect with me. The last one was a big step. I remember, much earlier, a friend had given me a book to read which was written by his friend. Since my friend knew I read a lot, he wanted my opinion. I almost cried through the book because it was so awful. I hated it. I only finished it because I thought I had to, because I thought I should. And I’ve done this before. I always felt guilty if I even toyed with the idea of ditching a book mid way. Stupid me for weighing myself down with such dumb expectations. ‘You are what you read’. I believe this holds true to a certain level, and I wish to cultivate my mind accordingly.
But all in all, time, effort and the desire to read need to be put in to cultivate the habit and love for reading. Some people are such quick readers, others not so much. Whichever kind of reader you are, so be it, but always have a book with you. :)