Getting Back to Reading

In 2020, I undertook a resolution of sorts to get back to reading for pleasure and personal growth. I began and began and began, every book I touched told me that it was not to be. I just did not have the patience or drive to continue. I would read the first page of David Copperfield, the first paragraph of Jane Eyre and the introduction to The stuff of thought, and found that I was suddenly in YouTube or Instagram or WhatsApp and then pulled myself back to reading. I would read the first page of Anna Karenina, the first paragraph or Wuthering Heights and the introduction to The Biography of Catherine the Great and relapse back to social media. It was a rough start. All I was able to do is start the books. In fact, reading just the first paragraph of a book does not mean real sampling. It does not even qualify as starting the book unless you are at least half a chapter in.  So, I was not making any progress whatsoever.

What was the problem I was facing? Nothing more than starting trouble? How can there be so much starting trouble when I was not intimidated by even chunky books when I was a teenager? And how can there be so much starting trouble when I REALLY wanted to get back to the habit? When I was so passionate about it. Was the problem just Instagram?

I tried to find articles/videos dealing with this rough start. I can’t be alone…

Well, it looked like I was. I looked up several articles/videos with titles like “How to read more” and “How I read 100 books this year”, and they did not address the issue I was facing at all. Some of the popular advice given included

  1. Not finishing books that I wasn’t very passionate about and moving away from books that weren’t working for me.
  2. Familiarizing myself with Audiobooks.
  3. Taking a book with me to every place where we may be waiting (like a queue in a government office or suchlike) and setting aside some time to read every day.

These tips did not convert me into a voracious reader. They probably contained potential. You need more than a small matchstick to ignite wood. Type similar questions about “Losing Weight” or “Getting Fit” and you’d receive more advice that you’d know what to do with. But people who already read voraciously are not very helpful about getting into reading. They probably don’t know what is difficult about the hobby. Maybe as a beginner myself, I can help those who are in the same boat.


Familiarizing myself with Audiobooks

This is something you are going to get in every “How to read more books” listicle. Listen to Audiobooks rather than physically reading them. But what are they like? Are they really all that similar to reading? Is it exactly reading? Well yes. If you bothered to concentrate.

The narrators can be really really good. I have listened to about 50 hours of audiobooks in the past one year. And any concern that I may not understand the story/plot/characters if I consumed the story in this way was unfounded. The narrators bring life to the characters so easily. It was most seamless.

However, turning from music to audiobooks was not intutive in the beginning. I still preferred to listen to music during my commute. At least in the beginning it is easy to miss the thread of what is happening in the story when your mind wanders to mundane stuff and the audiobook has moved on. Personally I resolved this by re-reading known books. I predominantly listened to audio versions of the books I had already liked. This also means that if I lost the thread for a couple of minutes because of some reason or the other, I still knew the story and could go back to it anytime.

Not all audiobooks are costly. But Audible audiobooks are. But Audible gives you this depends on your needs. A considerable number of audiobooks is available in Youtube itself and means that I listen to approximately 4 books a month in Youtube alone. If you look for fresh new titles that are super famous, you may not be finding it in Youtube. But you can look for classics. I am not subscribed to any other service for now. It does not appear like I need to. I am resonably busy with the availablility of Audiobooks. But once in a while it can happen that a new super popular book that is available only in a different platform. Not at all different from how most avid movie enthusiasts need to have more than just a Netfilx subscription,

Harry Potter

Harry Potter Analysis III – Those who do it better

Well I tried to come up with a few more thoughts about the HP Universe and stumbled upon YouTube channels that do it so wonderfully.

My favorites are Merphy Napier and SuperCarlinBrothers.

I found it so amusing that I kind of drowned into the 2 channels.

And through Merphy’s channel I came to the thought that maybe I should checkout other fantasy worlds. Narnia never worked for me, but I apparently there are several others to check out.

So what fantasy do you like most?

Tamil Movies

My Vintage Comedy Collection

I had mentioned a few months ago that I was checking out another hobby that tapped into my love for Tamil Cinema and here it is.

For the past few months I have been uploading comedy videos to my Instagram Account. And as the screenshots in this page suggest, I make a series of videos for a favorite comdy movie and upload it in chronological sequence. This means that if you like one of the movies, you can either choose to watch it sequentially for 25 mins of unadulterated fun or you choose your favourite comedy based on the thumbnail.

This thought came to me when I wanted to binge-watch Crazy Mohan’s videos after his untimely demise. I was shocked to see that Instagram had very few Tamil Vintage videos that are not TicTok videos which lip-sync an old classic. I felt that hashtags like #Chandrababu, #Nagesh , #Janakaraj and #CrazyMohan deserved better than what was currently in store. Editing these videos is undoubtedly a rather time consuming activity and I wondered if it would be worth my while. Turns out that it is great fun and I love the look of my Instagram account. There is something weirdly satisfying with this hobby. I have always had a sweet tooth for Tamil Comedy and here is my chance to explore it.

The movies I have uploaded in my Instagram are Sababathy, Thillu Mullu, Kadhanayagan, Pattanathil Bootham, Aboorva Sagotharargal and Sabash Meena (currently in progress). Please check it out and tell me what you think of it and what movies you would like to see.

Tamil Songs

Guess the Song – Set 100 (and thoughts)

So the day has come when I finally kiss the “Guess the Song” game good bye.

Needless to say that I shall miss this hobby. This has been an obsession for over 2 years now. I have to admit that as time went on it was not easy remembering which song lines have been already posted and which lines are yet to be done. It is also not easy remembering which background images have been already used and what have not been used.

Eventually I became obsessed with finding the perfect image for the perfect song lyrics. I started searching high and low for an image where a man is having tea with the moon. Nope. People draw pictures of men who are having their tea on the moon, but there was literally no picture of a man having tea with the moon. That is ok, I guess. That isn’t the only good line in Sahana. There were several other instances where I wanted a particular image and could not find images that captured how I felt.

But there were several instances where I felt pretty pleased with the output too. I also became hyper-obsessed with the number 500, wanting to reach that number approximately 2 years after starting the game. It is high time I turned my mind towards some other hobby. The most common request I get is to write about popular new movies (or maybe books). But I find that movies don’t interest me all that much. Not just the masala or action genres but also the feminist genre in which we are shown a woman who faces plenty of odds and comes out victorious in the end. I find that I try to impatiently predict what the filmmaker/writer has in store without truly empathizing with the characters that are being sketched out. Maybe I have become too cynical.

Some 10 years ago when I slowly got acquainted with the blogosphere, I believed that if I ever had the time/opportunity to create my own blog space, it will be a movie/books blog where the readers could not guess my age or gender or my location. I thought I would pick a clever pseudonym. I later realized that my age and gender where not small parts of the person that I am. I am a 39 year old Tamil woman and that is something people can figure out within minutes of visiting the blog.

My next few hobbies will concern Tamil movies of the 80s and 90s too and I will chronicle my thoughts as I go through with them. I should perhaps write a separate post on my obsession with nostalgia for that era. But what I love about the current times is how much it allows me to wallow in that nostalgic euphoria. I can watch whatever old movie I want or listen to whatever old song I like and they just sit there waiting for me in all their streaming glory. Some kind souls have uploaded lyrics too. Technology is so kind to nerds. I love how much of that nostalgic euphoria I can share with people I have not met.

Please hang on as I find a good way to keep myself entertained. Maybe you will be entertained too.