Why You Shouldn’t Read

Extensive use of emojis in our communication today is perhaps a sign that one day, the need for reading will stop. By then, the meaning of all emojis are standardised and no one should mistake the ‘high-five’ emoji as a ‘praying’ emoji. That would take a lot of advancement in the emoji business and an evolution in the way human communicate. I cannot imagine being 85 and fumbling through my list of emojis to ask my grandkids where had I misplaced my dentures. I’m a long way to 85 and I’m not even a fluent emoji user even on apps I use daily, like Whatsapp.

Although I think that we are still far from a world that requires no reading, I do believe there are reasons to caution a person from reading. As they say, a little sugar is sweet but too much would hurt. This concept also applies to reading. Let me give you three reasons why you shouldn’t read.

NUMBER 1: YOUR MIND GOES ON AUTOCORRECT

Oh God, this is probably the biggest bane of reading. Imagine walking around editing announcements on the notice board, Whatsapp conversations, while eavesdropping – but of course, all this editing is done only in our head. You are not Rafidah Aziz who could bluntly speak your mind and tell a radio DJ the correct proposition to use, “…with, not under…” plainly. The edit mode comes naturally and is not confined to inaccurate grammar use, it also includes shuffling and rearranging the terms used in a sentence while one speaks/writes. Yours truly, is guilty as charged.

NUMBER 2: BEING HOOKED ON A SERIES OF BOOKS

The world of publishing is a lucrative business. Have you ever noticed the eye-catching covers in sweet pastels for romance, black and bold design for topics about being rebellious and cool or simply the name of a well-known author sprawled on a book cover is all enticing enough for people to buy. So just imagine if the writer has a five-book series about one big adventure. Are you going to buy only 3 out of 5? Of course not! And what more if you already own all 5 but the publisher is releasing a limited edition set with gold prints on the book spine? That touch of gold would definitely add class to your bookshelf, so (closes eyes) BUY! Readers are big spenders and any sane reader would buy an extra copy of the book they love, just so that they have one in mint condition.

NUMBER 3: READING MAKES YOU IGNORE OTHER PEOPLE

Sometimes we don’t mean to ignore you, but we are in the middle of an interesting plot with words just bouncing off the pages that we need to put the book down (or maybe sit on it) to really make something of what you’re saying. Really. Sometimes we wish people would be graceful enough to realise that interrupting a person’s reading is just like robbing off a few frames on a film in our head, because we can never recall back our thoughts while it was at its heights. I am not saying it is good to ignore people around you because your book is more interesting but I think I’m a good person so I should caution this.

All three reasons why you shouldn’t read is just a few of the unintended effects of reading. Your language improves, you value knowledge, creativity and hard work AND you love yourself. Not too bad in exchange for not reading at all, right?

-Baini Mustafa

When to Stop Reading

There are times when one is required to stop reading and take a book fast. Withdrawing yourself from books can sometimes save yourself. See below the top three telltale signs of when to stop reading.

NUMBER 1: THE BOOK DOESN’T ‘LAUNCH’ IN YOUR HEAD

I have probably mentioned this a few times now and I would still repeat this: Put the book down if you have lost interest. It very important that you not waste time on something you do not like. If the book doesn’t keep you coming back after the first chapter, move on. Don’t take it personally, that book was just not your ‘type’.

NUMBER 2: GRAMMATICAL ERROR PEPPERED EVERYWHERE!

I have endured many of these types of books but I have also returned books that were badly edited (the ones that I paid full price). It is very important for readers to return the books because more and more books at bookstores seem to have this problem and of course, business will take advantage over consumers’ ignorance. So please, stop reading if the book has grammatical errors and return it to the store. Publishers should be responsible as to only release quality books because that’s what you paid for. If consumers keep buying and never returning the low quality books, publishers would just sit on the sales profit.

NUMBER 3: WHEN YOU NEED TO WRITE

There is a high tendency to imitate the writing style of the author you have just read. Not because you do not have your own writing style, but because you spend a lot of time with his/her book that it was only natural to adapt what you like. So if you do write, it always good to take a reading hiatus before you craft your own writing. This is especially important if you aim to be consistent with your writing style so that it would reflect your personality.

Although I only talk about books and reading, I would also like to caution here the detrimental effects of reading bad quality writing online. Just do yourself a favor and do not accept bad writing quality in exchange for some excitement that most probably did not come from a reputable source to begin with.

-Baini Mustafa