Our students, throughout their primary and secondary years of education, are given piles of course books to chew and swallow. This tedious task of reading prevents them from reading a book without an incentive of getting good marks.Therefore, instead of cultivating the habit of reading among our students, we let them detest this very habit which if cherished can do wonders.Students since childhood are taught with a marks-oriented approach and so they fail to comprehend the true purpose of reading. For them, the purpose of reading is either to get good marks or to secure their career. Students read with the core motivation of getting good grades and so their method of reading is superficial. Thus it gets difficult for them to read with the purpose of understanding the text. According to a United Nations Educational Scientific Cultural Organisation report, when the students of Grade 6 and Grade 5 were asked to read an essay, 94 percent and 68 percent of them could not read it. In our institutions, we tell students what to read however we fail to provide them with the guidelines of reading like ‘how to prepare yourself to read’ or ‘how to keep your interest retained until the very last page’. Some of our students see leisure reading as a task that wastes their time and hinders their growth as a student. Meanwhile, to others finishing a book seems a tiresome task; right after a few pages they lose interest as they find leisure reading aimless and prefer any other activity over it. However, this no doubt is a misconception.Why to read remains a pertinent question. Why do we lose ourselves in books, only to find ourselves enlarged, enraptured and transformed? Italian astronomer and physic Galileo saw reading as a way of attaining superhuman powers. Half a millennium later, his modern counterpart Carl Sagan, American cosmetologist, lauded books as “proof that humans are capable of conducting magic.” For the German speaking Jewish novelist Kafka, books were “the axe for the frozen sea within us”. In the story, the protagonist is named Jack who is an orphan living with his aunt and uncle, who are ‘not very nice to him’. One day, Jack climbs into the attic to play and discovers a big green book, which turns out to be full of magic spells“A book is a heart that beats in the chest of another,” writer Rebecca Solnit wrote in her lyrical meditation on why we read and write.Reading is a task that helps us outgrow our own limitations. But before starting the task of leisure reading, it is essential that one should explore the purpose of one’s reading. Ask yourself – why am I reading this? What is the purpose? What do I expect to be able to do/know as a result of this reading? Think about your reading in terms of outcomes. Take a moment and think of all the reasons that inspire or motivate you to read the words of best of minds.One of the finest inquiries into the importance of books in human life comes from writer Neil Gaiman, in a beautiful piece titled Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading & Daydreaming.“Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you’ve never been. Books are the way that we communicate with the dead. The way that we learn lessons from those who are no longer with us,” he wrote.Reading is a skill that we can develop with time. In our life, we prepare ourselves for most of the things and after the preparation, we focus on practising that very skill in order to keep it alive and master it. Athletes and players stretch out and warm up before their event. Painters make colours and choose brushes before starting their task. Designers make layouts before designing any dress. And so, what about a reader? Read, read and read until you breathe!So, whatever the purpose is of reading, be clear about it. Think of all the uses or benefits that you can have after reading a book or any piece of writing for that matter. Keep your incentives! If your reason to read matches any of the above stated reasons, then know that the decision you’re about to take of reading must not and cannot be taken as casually as you think it to be. Also, know that reading is a task that requires a lot of patience and composure. So take it easy! And let me assure you, the result of this arduous task of reading for sure will be worth it. Even if you succeed in learning a single new word or a thing, then know you’ve been victorious like a warrior in a battle.Some of the toothsome treats that you can get after devouring a book of your choice are that you can empower yourself with the acquisition of new words, you can learn new information and gain knowledge, you can inspire others by grating your own personality through words of best of minds.You can also break the bubble of ignorance by knowing yourself and your surroundings.The Big Green Book by Robert Graves is a book that visually explains the deep impact of reading through thought-provoking illustrations. In the story, the protagonist is named Jack who is an orphan living with his aunt and uncle, who are “not very nice to him”. One day, Jack climbs into the attic to play and discovers a big green book, which turns out to be full of magic spells. After thorough task of reading, “Soon he found he was not a little boy anymore – he was an old man with a long beard.”This story is a subtle reminder that although we return to the real world when the reading experience ends, books always transmogrify us and leave traces of their magical world in our real selves, to be carried forward with us beyond the last page!The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.orgPublished in Daily Times, January 27th 2019.