To read or not to read

by Esther Cabral

“Isn’t that man is in Harry Potter?” to which I replied quite uninterested “May be, I haven’t watched Harry Potter”… and the look I got was like I’m an alien or something. But I was unaffected as I’ve got that look many a time for being oblivious to something which is supposedly is one of the best and most engaging book series, read by a large number of the urban youth in India. And it’s not just the fictional Harry Potter series; we have the Twilight books too.

Choice, to each is their own. I’m not particularly against what others read just because it is not my choice or I suffer from differential views. The reason for such views stems out of the sheer dismay that reading of and discussions on books is restricted to more of following a fad rather than having an informed choice in selection of literature. Sure, these books are lucid, engaging and has definitely increased reading among the urban youth as noted in a survey conducted by the Financial Express in 2009 which states that only 25% of the literate youth are book readers.
Taking this scenario into consideration, any amount of reading is a good sign but then such fictional stories mislead the youth towards a fantasy life which is far from the realities we are facing these days. Awareness of government flagship social schemes like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is higher among rural youth compared to city dwellers, quoted in the Financial Express survey. Awareness of the current state of the society can only be attained through regular reading of the newspapers, magazines and other periodicals. Even fictional work based on real-life situation is acceptable as it provides a sneak peak into the life of the people that are real. William Dalrymple’s non-fiction book “Nine Lives” explores the lives of nine individuals who we would not even notice. It gives a new perspective about the people we live with, and make us more aware that there is a world that exists beyond ours.

In my opinion, while fiction gives scope to enlarge vocabulary and enhances writing skills; non-fiction expands the mind and compels us to think and act which is something that we need from the youth especially with the current state of affairs. The despicable state of affairs with the number of scams rising each day, the least we need is a bunch of able youth-the future of our country immersed in a non-real utopian world.

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