Author – Urmi Maitra
Someone once said, ‘Reading one book is like eating one potato chip. You will keep wanting to go back for more’. In our 21st century world of digitization, a question which often comes up is whether people will still feel the urge to read. For a lot of people, watching movies is a substitute for reading. They get to watch stories come to life and it’s less time-consuming, which makes it seem like a more attractive option than reading.
However, I don’t think watching movies can ever be a substitute for reading. When you read a book, you become lost in a world that isn’t your own. A movie cannot do that to you. When you watch a movie, you are watching someone else’s story on a screen. When you read a book, you yourself become a part of the story. In today’s age of increasing problems and threats to mankind, who wouldn’t want to get lost in a different world for some time? No matter how digitized we become, I think there will always be people who just want a respite from all the technology and all the screens, people who want an escape from this world but have no place to go. It is these people who will always turn to books, people who want to lose themselves in books to find words for things they already know.
An adventure of a lifetime starts with a page, and I believe that Man will read until Man ceases to exist simply because we want to experience something more than what we have. We write in order to express ourselves, and we read because we want to be reassured that we aren’t alone. We read because sometimes, books make us feel things that we cannot feel otherwise, a feeling that is truly magical. As Albus Dumbledore famously said in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, ‘Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic, capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.’ We live in a reality where people go to great lengths to slow down ageing and live a long life. In such a reality, reading is something that enables them to live a hundred lives in one.
Reading doesn’t just have to be restricted to books. A person can read an article in a magazine about a celebrity’s life and feel like that celebrity for a moment. A little boy can read an account of a war written by a soldier and feel like he was a part of it too. At the end of the day, reading makes us feel. It makes us jump in happiness or drown in sorrow. Sometimes we feel like holding a book close to our heart, and sometimes we feel like throwing it at the wall. And what are these feelings if not emotions that make us human?
Our world of numbers, codes and artificial intelligence is a very cold one. And there will always be some people, like me, who will turn to the warmth that reading offers them. As long as there are people who dream, there will always be people who write and people who read. It has stood the test of time, and it will continue to do so. Because John Lennon was right. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’ll never be the only one.