CXXII. I've Taken to Reading -

I’ve always loved learning and mastering material without regard for the grade; I was an autodidact all year ‘round.

I wouldn’t even bother to relieve myself of this characteristic on All Hallows’ Eve when everyone else seemed to surrender themselves fully to their costume of choice. I may have chosen to be a witch every year, but  books containing a wealth of information on Wicca were still taken out, just so I could study up on what my costume really entailed.

Regardless, “pleasure reading”, has always been a loaded concept for me. I don’t read just for the sake of it.

Many times I have questioned the correctness of this decided upon action. I’m a writer, a journalist, but I do not have any particular favorite publications. I love to write, as opposed to read.

I think the controversial dual identity that is ‘reading and writing’, is directly parallel to the other controversial dual identity of ‘mind and body.’

To read and to write are two separate verbs, independent of each other; this idea is in parallel to regarding the mind and the body as distinct entities. In both case scenarios, however, there is an inherent connection.

Reading and writing and the mind and the body, go hand-in-hand. On a most basic level, you have to be able to read what you are writing. In a more abstract sense, reading is a skill that has a high success rate in honing the craft of writing. Your vocabulary proliferates when reading. Furthermore, as a reader, when writing, you can engage with your own prose as both the creator and the audience.

Most of the time, however, reading causes me to develop a headache, regardless of whether or not I am in a moving car. My head tends to feel heavy, almost vertigo-like, and I put the book down, briefly close my eyes, and then engage with the inanimate book so that it receives the brunt of my seething scowl.

On many recent occasions, interviewees, ranging from my age to the senility of the Huff Post’s science section editor, in sharp contrast to the otherwise youthful Huffington Post, have asked me what my favorite publications are and who my favorite columnists are.

Why don’t you ask me what my favorite color or number is while you’re at it?

The triviality of picking and choosing, in effect conducting my own mini interview on distanced writers and their affiliated publishing houses, serves no purpose.

Keeping in mind what my mother tells me prior to any pending interviews I have scheduled, to “be honest and be yourself”, I told my most recent interviewers that, many moons ago, I had once favored the columnist Joel Stein of TIME Magazine.
After one too many racial quips targeted at my own Indian heritage, I did not care for his overly touted reputation on a fledgling magazine that seems to slowly deteriorating into the Reader’s Digest type.

After providing my interviewers with my answer, I was met with quizzical stares. So much for being honest.

During my stint at a political campaign for a ridiculous office that holds no power in NYC, I met a fellow UPenn alum.
Upon finding out that I was a writer, he asked me what reading materials posed as my muse.

Reading is not a muse for writing. To believe that it is, I imagine, is the first step to committing what we now know as plagiarism.
I hate saying, writing, and/or typing the word “plagiarism.”
It’s a dirty word that represents failure among academics and is akin to uttering “Lord Voldemort”, of the fictional Harry Potter series.

I told as much to the tall, burlesque, aspiring actor and fellow Penn graduate: “ I prefer writing to reading.”

When I do read, my choices are obscure and very specific. They include, but are  not limited to: Medical fiction and nonfiction, South Asian/Central Asian/Eastern historical fiction and nonfiction, semi-autobiographical novels, and journalistic books bound with erudite prose.

Anticipating having to justify my answer as we waited for the F train, surprisingly, he did not carry an expression of condescension as I expected he would. Instead he said, “I’m the same way.”

I have taken to reading recently because, now out of school, I am proactively increasing my knowledge bank.

I have taken to reading because I want to prepare for my GRE in a more creative and less burdensome manner.

I have taken to reading for diversion that is not found on hardwired monitors.

So yes, I have taken to reading for purposes other than writing.