Let me help you choose what to read
|A lovely girl named Aneeza Huma wrote to my daughter Nadiya, ‘just came across your blog. I’m so inspired by your mother. God bless her.
I know she is a good writer and I really want her to suggest some good books to me. ‘
I’m so thrilled that I’m happily writing this blog for you Aneeza, even though I’m so committed right now.
The fact is that I’ve found it very hard to read a book suggested by someone else. But, sometimes it does work. The suggestion can be good if that person is in sync with you. Just as Rubina my friend suggested ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’ by Robin Sharma. What a book! – Just loved it. So, she knew me and the book. That suggestion worked. But it is only so because my friend knew me, and what I liked to read. In your case, I don’t know what you like. Still, I’ll share some thoughts on books with you.
A book fulfills the need of the time you are in. There are times in your life, when you are upset about something, and you cannot talk about it with anyone. Yet you need expert advice. You can turn to experts in books. I’ve found Dr. Wyne Dyers’ books a real tonic. In the same way, there are books which give solace and courage.
Sometimes reading fiction helps. You will find diversion and thrill too. In my late teens and adulthood, I loved Alistair Mclean’s books which were full of adventure, suspense and thrills.
More than the topic, the narration style is important. I love a bit of humor tucked in. I think, a book is a work of literary art. It should be like water; flowing and easily absorbed. This you can find out by reading the first few lines…
The first sentence is usually a very good indicator of how the rest of the book or article would be. But some writers, write a very good first page, and later on they start draggggggging the subject.
I’m usually reading four books at a time. These days: ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ by Brene Brown, ‘Minimalism’ – live a meaningful life by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, ‘Notes of a Sacred Land’ by Matthew Vaughan, and ‘Blog INC.’ by Joy Deangdeelert Cho. – Each book, for a different mood or time. I know it is crazy. But its’ worked for me.
We also have to be kind to the book. Read when there are least distractions. But also remember, there is no perfect world that we live in. So, make a time and place for it. Usually, best time is before going to sleep.
Children usually disrupt such sessions. You have small kids? Give them books and take your own. When they are babies, never give them newspapers to tear. Let them respect the written word and books from an early age. Read out to them from the time they are tiny babies. Always take your children with you to the library. Give them books as rewards. Make reading a fun session. I’m a great fan of UrduMom and Nataliya’s vlogs of reading sessions with children. Share comics and illustrations with others. As they grow, share what you read with children. Once, my daughter Nataliya aged fourteen, wrote a book review on a book which she hadn’t read, but had heard enough from me!
You want me to suggest a book for you? I’d like to know more about you, and where you are coming from. There are phases in life, when certain books are more relevant. Later on they aren’t. Hey, I even know a book which would be best to read if you are going through a divorce. (Yes, it is an amazing book, can you believe it, written with humor.) So, you can suggest that one, for the friend of yours who is going through it.
Ok, off hand, let me see. Are you at the stage of looking and finding the right life partner? I’d suggest ‘Love Smart’ by Dr. Phil. Ok, so you have a partner, and need help with trying to live with him? – ‘Family First’ by Dr. Phil! There are many books to help you – specially the series by Greg Chapel ‘Seasons of Love’. Going through a bad patch in life? Read the Transformational Power of Crisis.
I’m a die hard fan of Stephon R. Covey, I loved his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Families, The 8th Habit, The Speed of Trust, Leadership, First Things First. His son Sean Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers. Its okay, you can read the last one too, its well written and valid at any age.
I love reading magazines. Now there are mags on blogging, writing, painting and script writing. I’ve invested in them all my life. In Pakistan there were just a few shops in major cities where these ones published in USA were available, and I’d get them regularly.
In Urdu, I’d suggest Mustansar Husain Tarar’s ‘Chick chuk’, Mumtaz Mufti’s ‘Talash’, Ashfaque Ahmad’s Aik Muhabbat Saw Afsanay and all the Zawiye series books. I’ve read poetry of Iqbal, Ghalib, Muneer Niazi, Parveen Shakir and others.
Listen, you don’t have to read cover to cover. Read the table of contents. Choose a few of the stories or poems.
A language is a window into the psyche of the people. I met Dr. Laeeq Babri in Islamabad who was a Pakistani writer and a specialist in French language. He mentioned Sarthe and other French writers, and I realized how, a whole world is closed to you simply due to not knowing the language. Here are a people with a language and a history. It is a literature, which has hundreds of years of learning and wisdom of people of that region behind it. It’s the same, with Chinese and Russian authors.
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had a saying, ‘Seek knowledge even if you have to go to China for it.’ Why did he take the name of China? -There were Muslim traders who had gone there – including his own uncle who had reached close to it. This is why he knew of the thousands of years’ old civilization in China.
In one’s own case, you know your own weak point. So, read up on that stuff. Find a teacher who can explain it to you, if the book isn’t’ enough. I loved Iqbal’s work, but couldn’t understand much of it. So, my dear friend Seema, helped me to understand the Urdu work. This is how I came upon M. Hadi Husains’ translations of Iqbal’s Persian book: Payam-e-Mashriq.
Go for your gut feeling. You get drawn to books which have no logic in your present life. It is Providence guiding you towards topics which will be useful to you in your coming life.
I was reading on finance, when I actually didn’t have a penny. I’m also hopeless with numbers. I would be tickled while reading about managing money by Suzie Orman The Money Class , Money and Women, and Rich Dad, Poor Dad. I loved watching Suzie Orman’s programs on CBNC often. You can watch them on Youtube.
When my husband was suddenly diagnosed with cancer six years ago, his banks were closed by his siblings. All our assets were frozen during his lifetime. I was actually building our house with no money in hand, and support from Him from sources I couldn’t have imagines. My enemies thought they’d easily destroy me. They had not counted the books I had read, nor the One Up There, who was keeping His eye on me. Today, I sit comfortably, with my Allah’s blessings. I was fearless, because I had faith and knowledge. I knew a lot about making financial decisions, how to deal with people from all walks of life. (My experience as a freelance writer for daily Dawn, had me in contact with people from all socio-economic levels.) I knew how to manage even about things which were previously out of my comfort zone. People listened to me, as they knew I made sense. Yes, after my faith in my God, there were all these books which I had read. Reading the Quran with meaning was my daily habit. There was no confusion in my mind on how I’d cope with impossible situations. I was very confident. So were my daughters. None of them doubted my ability to cope. Alhamdolillah. – I’d give a lot of credit to my faith and habit of reading. I had knowledge from specialists in every field, that included design, interiors and a bit of architecture.
You see. There is a right time for a book to come into your life. There is a Providence which brings the right person or book into your life when you need it most. Usually, I line up unread or favorite books in my room…. to pick up on and off.
You just follow your heart.
A word about books and online reading: Hey, it’s the same. It is information. Whatever suits you as a medium, as long as you are receiving it. These days, Mangobaaz and Parhlo have very interesting articles online. Whether you learn through video or from a book, it is ok. If you find reading difficult there are audio tapes, pod casts and Youtube videos of Stephon R Covey, and Dr. Wyne Dyer and many others. There are videos of Ashfaque Ahmad, Iqbals’ poetry, Bano Qudsia. There is poetry of Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Habib Jalib and more.
The point is to spend a few relaxing minutes each day with the thinkers of our times.
Enjoy reading and stay blessed.
Note: All photographs and videos provided by author. All due apologies for my first attempt at the videos. Hope to make them better next time!