The Gone Case: Yashodhara Lal on why reading leads to writing

Over the last three years, I find myself reading a LOT more non-fiction than fiction. On writing. On meditation. On time management. As a consequence of which, I’m late to the party in terms of reading the big, famous fiction titles – such as Gone Girl, which recently made its way to my home.

Have I really become so busy that I can’t read a good book properly? 

The only reason the book made its way to my home was that my daughter generously offered one of her six slots from the delightful online library service iloveread.in – I glanced at the selection on the website and thought, well, Why Not? The book arrived. And over the last couple of weeks, my reading of it gave me the jitters.

Not because the book itself is a fascinating psychological thriller type. It was  the way in which I consumed this story. I started out with the first couple of chapters and it pulled me in. But given how many other things I’ve got going on, I put it down again for a couple of days. Picked it up again, went a little futher, put it down again. In the meantime, my daughter went through the five books she’d ordered for herself and started hassling me about finishing so that she could return them all in one shot and order a new set.

World Book Day

Wait, wait, I grumbled. Fed up, I decided I’d never have time to read this book. So I flipped over to the end just to see how it turned out. Huh! Really? Wow. That was unexpected. But what of the middle? What actually happened? But who had time to go through the big fat book? And so I just went and checked out the plot on Wikipedia. Well, well. So THAT was what really happened in the story. But wait, that particular scene sounded interesting, maybe I’d just check that out? And so I found myself combing through the book, going through the middle chapters in no particular order. My daughter gave up on me and went ahead and returned her books and ordered another set. I still wasn’t done. Hmm. Gone Girl, the movie? Everyone had seen it. Interesting. It was available for 80 bucks on Youtube. Why not give it a weekend watch? Which I did. And then went back again to the book to compare discrepancies with the movie, by which time I realized – I’d actually read pretty much the entire book– but in a really weird, random order!

I don’t want to be staring stupidly into a smart device anymore. I’d rather be gazing open-mouthed into a book.

That was what shook me. Have I really become so busy that I can’t read a good book properly? Me – an author of five books with two more on the way- and not one of those who proudly says ‘I don’t read, I just write.’ Hell, yeah, I read! I have hundreds of books at home, fiction and non-fiction. But can I no longer follow a good story? In the normal way?  Is the amount of time I spend on my smartphone for various reasons – work email, managing my calendar, social media – is all of that just addling my brain and reducing my attention span to that of a nine-year-old? But no – my own nine year old daughter reads books cover to cover with her mouth open, tongue hanging out to the side, oblivious to the world around her.

I want that again. I don’t want to be staring stupidly into a smart device anymore. I’d rather be gazing open-mouthed into a book. And I’ll do it too. It’s going to be a hard addiction and re-addiction exercise, but by George, it’s going to be so worth it.

And what better day to start than World Book Day? Any good books you can recommend?
What have I missed last three years?

Yashodhara Lal is the author of five books (her latest romance-comedy ‘When Love Finds You’ and first children’s ‘Peanut Has A Plan‘ are out now). She is also a corporate professional, zumba instructor, music enthusiast and talks about doing it all in her TedX talk. Know more at yashodharalal.com.