Now, this is writing of very fine quality that, reading it becomes an act of indulgence. What is beauty? Is it only about physical perfection or only about the pleasure of the senses? Apart from the sensuous aspect, is there anything more to it? To me, the answer is a resounding yes! Indeed, as the dictionary says, it is a "combination of qualities giving pleasure to the sight, mind etc"; "an excellent specimen of something."
When I read good books, what I am in fact doing is indulging in beauty - a fact that is lost to people who say it is boring and monotonous to sit in a corner with a book. How I wish they knew what they are talking about so carelessly! How I wish that they partake in this indulgence and experience the pleasure themselves! The pleasures and advantages of reading are multitude.
To sum them broadly, I would say:
- Reading expands the horizons of the mind. In helping me imagine far off lands, cultures and customs, not only does it introduce me to whole new worlds, by making me every bit a part of the unfolding stories, it broadens the knowledge of the world.
- It has helped me empathize with others readily. To be able to acknowledge the feelings of others and see them for what they are requires a conscious effort to observe minutiae and perceive with a keen attention. I am indebted to the books for this more than anything else.
- Books as companions - this is something wonderful particularly when loneliness threatens to engulf. I pick a book and forget the world around. At first, I thought I was escaping reality and getting cocooned elsewhere in the confines of an imaginary landscape, but with age, I have brushed aside these thoughts.
- Reading good works, as the first few paras of this post demonstrates, is to the intellect what sensuality is to the senses. Beauty is more often than not, elusive. In imagining that it is obvious to the wandering eye, we deceive ourselves. It is in the detail, often deceptively petty, but on a keener discernment, quite evident. When I chance upon an especially good work, I get the feeling that I am blessed and relish it with happiness.