In most of my travels abroad, if there’s one thing that has gone unmistakably missing, it is the failure to catch a glimpse of people reading. Whether it’s in the airport, on the airplane, in the public transports or even across the tourist spots, I have always observed a certain number of people engrossed in reading. Smiling or frowning – young or old, men or women – they always radiate an invisible connection to the fonts on the pages that is as hard to describe as it is to perceive. And as an observer, no matter how hard I may try to fathom that imperceptible power of connection, only the one who reads can comprehend the true magnitude of satisfaction of the art of reading.
Reading, to me, is bliss. There’s just something about reading that resonates in perfect harmony with my being. They say, a dog is a man’s best friend. I say, it’s a book. Seriously, I can’t seem to pass a single day without having to flip through pages in a paperback, smell its distinct scent and pore over the little fonts. Reading gives me a sense of pleasure and purpose unlike any other.
In all honesty, I think I have learned more about the world, about cultures, about new ideas and trends through reading. By reading, I definitely don’t necessarily mean academic textbooks; in fact, on the contrary. Started off by the likes of William Shakespeare and Mark Twain, through J K Rowling, Michael Porter and John Grisham, all the way up to Jim Collins, Malcomm Gladwell and Patrick Lencioni, my reading sojourn has spanned across a variety of genres fraught with wisdom and delight. While novels and fictions may have dominated my early years, today I find myself more occupied with reads about psychology, business, religion, and biographies.
Whatever the case, every reading has practically helped me to broaden insights, gain a deeper understanding of the world around, enrich vocabulary and enhance reflection skills – all in a concerted effort to aid my personal development.
Many great leaders, from the past and the present, have articulated how reading helped them to their success, be it on a personal or a professional frontier. You talk about Steve Jobs, Phil Knight, Donald Trump – all have correlated their reading insatiability to their organization’s success. Even from a religious perspective, the first word that came down as part of the Holy Quran is ‘Read.’ No one knows us better than the Almighty, and clearly He has carved His expectations out of us, too, by encouraging and commanding us to read in order to enhance our quality of living.
If not for anything else, there’re few things that are more relaxing than reading. Today, behavioral science suggests that six minutes of reading could actually cut down stress levels by more than two-thirds. While it will be a folly for organizations not to take advantage of this fact and foster a culture of reading among their employees, the young generation should aim to cultivate a habit of reading to keep up with the demanding pace of the changing world.
In a nation where traffic jams are a daily ordeal and entertainment avenues are not prevalent, perhaps getting into the habit of picking up a book may not be all that bad. Indeed in every crisis looms an opportunity. Call it a blessing in disguise, but I strongly believe that we as Bangladeshis can learn this custom from our Western counterparts and collectively leverage the benefits out of it to help prosper our nation. As they say, readers are leaders.