How to get back to reading

Girl lying in grass, reading a book. Intentionally toned.
Girl lying in grass, reading a book. Intentionally toned.

By Malavika Varadan, managing director, The Hive

Published: Thu 4 Feb 2021, 9:06 PM

I believe in the power of words. It is a legacy passed down from my father, who ran a publishing business and to this day, I remember what my Saturday mornings looked, felt and smelt like. I would tag along with my dad to his office — a storehouse for books. Barely four feet off the ground myself, I would look up at these large metal racks filled with books of every shape, size and colour. My little fingers would trace the binds and titles — cookbooks, storybooks, fiction and non-fiction, biographies and textbooks — and I would practise reading their names out loud, imagining my own name on a book one day.

Books are still the first thing I find a place for in a new home, the first thing I notice when I visit someone’s house or office. In the midst of the lockdown, when I would attend meetings and seminars on Zoom, I would always try to decipher the titles of the books behind the person speaking, and feel I already knew that person better.

This is a week when Dubai is home to the festival of literature. We come out of the wood work, grabbing all the bargains we can get and stocking up on our favourite new reads. If you are one of those once-upon-a-time-bookworms, then here are some of my suggestions on how you can get back into the habit of reading. Like any hobby or relationship, I find reading requires you to invest time, energy and intent, and if you can do that — the journey back to books and through books, can be truly transformational.

1. I date my books: Much like a date night scheduled weeks in advance — I set aside a little time every week to read. Sunday is my day off and whatever else I might be doing on that day, you can be sure I will be carrying my book. I am currently reading My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. She comes with me wherever I go.

2. I have fallen in love with audiobooks: I began listening to an old favourite, Tuesdays With Morrie on my 20-minute drive to work every day. I now find myself looking forward to the trade centre traffic, so that I can hear more.

3. Use a device: Most authentic book lovers will tell you that nothing compares to the feeling of paper between your finger tips, the weight of a book in your hands. But if you are someone like me, who likes to read three books simultaneously (one that’s light, one that’s heavy and one that educates), then the only way to do it is a Kindle. I swear by mine. Best Dh400 I ever spent.

4. Find the right book to bring you back: If you haven’t finished a whole book in a few years, the last thing you need is another book that will go from your bedside to your centre table to your bookshelf in a few weeks. Find a story that you want to hear, a book that will be a page-turner, and will hold you tight through lunch breaks and late evenings, lazy weekends and metro rides. Before you know it, you’ll be back in love!

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