Let’s cultivate reading habit

By Azra Farzana Shuib

I was scrolling through Twitter when I saw a very interesting quote from J.K Rowling – ‘If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.’

And I thought to myself that those words she said were actually true.  Growing up, I’ve had friends who always told me that they do not like reading, or reading is not for them, reading is boring, or they just won’t spend time reading. For every time they didn’t get good marks in exam, especially for subjects that require a lot of memorisation, they would simply justify it with their lack of passion in reading.

I have said some of that too. It wasn’t until I was sixteen that I have finally got the hobby of reading. And that came from finally finding an interesting piece to read. The first time I read that book, I took more than two months to finish those 200 pages. But as the passion develops, I bought more books in the same interest and I started to finish faster, and faster.

In my school some years ago, I have always admired people who really love and can excel in History subject. To excel in History was not something really outstanding at that time, but to have passion in it is really something. To me, these people are really artistic, imaginative, and have a strong sense of cultural identity because they love to know and understand their roots. And most of them have a really refined, high-standard morality and good manners. I never really thought about it, where it came from, but now I feel that it must have come from various ideas and perceptions they get from what they read.

I believe that deep inside, everyone is a reader. No matter how much they stressed about not having any interest in reading, they are still good readers and they just don’t know it yet – probably because they have not found their areas of interest. A good read is a reading that can elevate your intellect and well-being. If it does not lead to that then one should change what he or she reads. I strongly believe reading is essential as it was also a divine order from Allah SWT to mankind: “Proclaim! (or read!) in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created -” (96:1)

I have met or read about a number of great, successful people – university, national and global level. Most of them share one thing in common: they read. And they would read every day, and some of them read until they can write. People who made millions just from writing; they don’t just get there directly.

As a student specialising in Journalism, I read about successful journalists. How can they become so good at writing? They aren’t just simply born that way. They cultivate their passion by writing everyday, and how would they get better? They read. Same thing goes to any other successful people. They love to read, and they read deeply about their area of interest, their specific field and expertise. If you love something, you would dwell yourself into it, and immerse yourself in all of the information to get to the core of that particular subject.

The problem now is how much do we really read? How many books do we really finish in a year? Or let’s just get to the smaller scope – do we read everyday? Do we read newspapers, be it online news or hardcopy newspaper? There are so many channels to get news today – national, regional and international, but do we really read them? Or do we just simply believe all the non-credible posts in social media just because they were written in a ‘believable’ way?

With so many going on in the country and the world – political, social, economic, international relations, conflicts and many other issues, we need to widen our reading. Once we do that, we have widened our perspective. Only from reading different angles of stories can make you think deliberately about what’s going on and who to trust.

It is so easy to get news now. Getting hardcopy newspaper is not expensive, and reading international news is even easier as they are accessible online. Sadly, not everyone does that. Most people still believe whatever social media tells them.

Since the number of newspaper reading have declined among students nowadays, let’s draw the scope even smaller now – as a Muslim, we have our own special way to develop our passion in reading. The miraculous words of Allah sent to us in the Quran are the best words to hear and to read. It is the best book anyone could own, so good that the words are already inscribed in some people’s hearts out of love to the religion.

Now, do we read this book everyday? If we have so many excuses to not read other books, what excuse do we have to not read this book? The first step of possessing a reading habit is to find your area of fascination. If the Quran has no allure to you then maybe you have not really understand its meanings just yet.

Let’s  broaden our mind and strengthen it with reading. To those who already have the passion in reading, congratulations and hopefully your reading will enhance your way of life. To those who have yet to awaken this passion, don’t give up. Once you finally have it, you will understand the difference of the two worlds, and it will be more difficult for you to stop the habit than the people who already have reading as their routine. Good luck!***

Photo credited to Margaret Fuller

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