Ask a writer how you can be better at writing and he/she will tell you to read more.
Yes, I don’t deny the fact that reading helps a lot in writing.
“When you read more, you learn more about different genres, different writing styles, what works for the readers, what doesn’t. Reading enriches your vocabulary and hence you can articulate your thoughts in a better manner.”
- says Rajul Khona
Meet Rajul Khona — a tweeple, an instagrammer, a traveller and a voracious book reader. She read 209 books last year, in 2018. And she works too.
Hi, I am Rajul Khona from Mumbai. I live with my parents. My younger sister is married and has an adorable 4-year-old daughter, whom I love to bits. I work as an Associate Manager in a Finance BPO.
I love reading, writing, cooking, eating out, travelling, tweeting, watching movies and TV shows and meeting new people! I love multi-tasking and I am also a multiple personality rolled into one body!
When did you start reading, you know, like a hobby?
It would be wrong to call reading a hobby. Reading is a part of my life and it comes natural to me just like breathing! My entire family loves to read and they have always provided a conducive environment and encouragement for reading. I remember reading even textbooks during vacations (the language and History ones at least).
The earliest memory of when I started reading is I guess around the age of 5–6. I used to borrow children’s books from the local library and devour it like there is no tomorrow. My parents used to get us desi comics like Champak and Chandmama. I started reading full-fledged novels when I was 9 years old. I think Patan ni Prabhuta was my first novel. (It’s been a long time & hence pretty difficult to remember)
What are all the different genres you read? And which one is your favourite?
I read and like almost all genres except self-help books. My topmost favourite genres would be Historical Fiction, Mystery and Humour. I like to balance my reading. If I have read a heavy or serious book, my next read would be something light and fluffy. I like to explore new writers and go beyond my comfort zone. On that note, Lincoln in the Bardo would be the weirdest book I would have read.
Oh, what was weird about Lincoln in the Bardo?
It cannot fit into a particular genre. It’s a historical fiction plus fantasy plus magic. It’s about Abe Lincoln’s son, Willie, who died of illness and now is in the Bardo. Bardo is a temporary state between death and rebirth.
Not to my taste!
You work, spend time with family, watch movies, travel, write, literally doing it all… So, when do you find time to read?
Hahahahaha! I have often been asked this question. When you love something, you automatically find time to read but it would not have been possible to read so much without the convenience of eBooks. I can read books during travelling, eating, taking a break at work and at night. Sometimes I stay awake all night to finish a book.
Also, while reading books, I learn more about the historical events or places described in the book with the help of Google and Wikipedia. I read more about World War 2 while reading various books on it than I was studying history in school.
How has this passion for reading has shaped you over the years — your lifestyle, your schedule?
Reading has helped me expand my horizon, be more sensitive towards other people’s perspectives, helped me build rapport with international clients as I know more about their culture through books.
This happens only if reading is not just a hobby but your aim is also to learn new things about the world. Reading also helps you discover yourself. I came to know I was a diabetic because of my reading, can you believe it? My other boss had subscribed Readers Digest for me because of my love for reading and in one of the articles about a diabetic, I came to know about symptoms of diabetes (Type II) which I was also facing.
Imagine, if I wouldn’t have read about it, I could have gone into a coma or died or something. So, in a way, reading has saved my life. Reading also has saved me during my depression. Sometime back, due to certain unfavourable circumstances, I was battling depression and I discovered A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones). I immersed myself in the books (readers would know they are humongous) and they helped me distract myself from whatever unsavoury was going on in my life!
Reading opens up your imagination. That’s why I prefer reading to watching movies / TV shows.
What do you think reading actually does to the readers? Does it help them learn more things or unlearn some? Or both?
As futurist Alvin Toffler once wrote,
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”
Reading is a great tool to learn something, unlearn something and also relearn something. All your life you are used to look at things in a particular way and then you come across something which makes you change your opinions. It is just like when a frog from the well jumps out in the ocean and discovers a whole new world!
Reading also helps you become a better writer. When you read more, you learn more about different genres, different writing styles, what works for the readers, what doesn’t. Reading enriches your vocabulary and hence you can articulate your thoughts in a better manner.
How to cultivate a reading habit? How to find time to read?
Knowing how to read and not reading books is like having a brain and not using it. I am not a book snob. I understand some people relate more to the audio/visual medium, rather than reading a book. But it does not mean you don’t read at all or take pride in not reading books.
Books are an amazing medium to increase your knowledge, improve your imagination and vocabulary. A well-read person is a treasure trove.
If you want to start reading, start with a topic you love. Like if you like cars, read books on different type of cars or history of cars. If you like the subject it will keep you engrossed. Start reading short stories which requires less attention span. Do follow my blog for more reading recommendations.
Knowing how to read and not reading books is like having a brain and not using it.
Some people give excuse of time but I have always seen them finding time for something else. If you really want to do it, you will find time for it. Everybody has the same 24 hours, it is just about setting priorities. Make it a point to read one book a month, gradually increasing to one book per week. E-books are a great help. You don’t even need a Kindle device. You can read it on a e-reader app on your phone.
Also, there are lots of deals available for e-books. You don’t even need to spend a bomb on books anymore.
And how did you start writing and still continue?
Reading has always been like a passion for me since childhood. I have always been a voracious reader. It may be newspapers, comics, short stories, novellas or full-fledged novels. I forget myself when I am reading. I become one with the characters & feel their emotions empathetically. It takes me to places where I cannot physically go, transporting me to a world of imagination. Reading has also fuelled my already active imagination!
The next logical step for me was to then pour out all the imagination in the form of writing.
I used to write poetries, short essays & stories but I immediately tore them up after writing. I was never sure whether I was a good writer or not. I started blogging in 2010 when I was recuperating from a fracture and started my own website MirchiLaddoo.com in 2012.
I was inspired by the quote –
“Writing is the art of getting naked in public.”
- Paulo Coelho.
I also believe in write to express yourself and not impress others.
I am a confident writer now and love writing about various topics but mostly short fictions.
Great! So, what’s your reading target for 2019? And what’s the progress?
My reading target for 2019 is same as 2018 — 200 books. I could read more, I have no doubt about it, but I have planned some other things to achieve as well. Like, running a marathon — Already done a 4 KM dream run in the beginning of the year. You can read more on my blog.
And I have read 8 books till now in 2019 and on my ninth one.
That was all about Rajul Khona, the Book Dragon. And I know she will break her 2018 record… for sure!
In her words,
That’s why she loves reading so much.
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