Feed me nib­bles, please!

If only some­one would do the heavy lift­ing and read all those won­der­ful yet scar­ily thick books and pro­vide bite­size pieces of them to keep us in­formed about the im­por­tant things.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - READS -

Quest, thor­oughly pleased to have it as a mute com­pan­ion.

How can more people ben­e­fit from such im­por­tant books? I won­dered, slip­ping mo­men­tar­ily out of my clean­ing apron and putting on my aca­demic read­ing glasses. In­stantly, I sur­ren­dered my­self to the au­thors’ grip. Ex­perts in their fields, the au­thors do have im­por­tant mes­sages and ev­ery one of these mes­sages is as rel­e­vant as they are im­por­tant – na­tions fail de­spite be­ing blessed with oil, and oil in turn is fail­ing us and the world is be­lea­guered be­cause of it. Why and how? you may ask but, shame­fully, I can’t even think of rea­sons let alone ar­tic­u­late them be­cause much of what is con­tained in these two books has dis­si­pated from my shal­low mind. I wish I could tell you, and I should be able to since I claim to have read these two won­der­ful pub­li­ca­tions.

But if they had not been sent to me for re­view pur­poses, I would not have bought them my­self, frankly. I would, how- ever, have ad­mired them from afar be­cause the au­thors are renowned and the ti­tles, in­trigu­ing. So, like many books won­der­fully writ­ten, this duo would have turned me away even though, deep down, I would wish that I had the time and en­durance to read them. And be­fore I turned away, I might have taken one last glance at their cov­ers in hopes of get­ting some slight flavour from them.

Such a sce­nario is, sadly, not un­com­mon, and it at­tests to a world with­out read­ers. Or rather, to a world with read­ers who find read­ing cum­ber­some, more so if books are as thick as my two.

Books, and read­ing them, make us smart but we won’t be­come smarter and more in­formed if we con­tinue to turn away from books sim­ply be­cause they look in­tim­i­dat­ing. Still, in this age of in­for­ma­tion over­load, if we are to stop turn­ing our backs on printed books, we need some­one to read on our be­half and tell us the gist of things.

Ac­tu­ally, doesn’t that wish sound like a new busi­ness op­por­tu­nity: To sum­marise books for the very-im­por­tant-hence-busy reader or the reader who wants to be in the know but is too in­tim­i­dated to read the thick books. I can imag­ine some in­ge­nious people build­ing up a thriv­ing busi­ness ful­fill­ing such a wish. I can see people sail­ing through a 10-page sum­mary and be­ing awed by it. Within half an hour, it is as good as read­ing an 800-page book. Could this be the next big thing in the pub­lish­ing world? Your an­swer is as pos­i­tive as mine.

Af­ter 10 min­utes of pag­ing rem­i­nis­cently through the fat pair, I put them down. Back to my clean­ing, which I hoped to fin­ish soon­est pos­si­ble so I could get into my bed and back to Me­lanie, a hun­gry girl in­fected by a virus. She is the girl who can do any­thing in the highly en­gag­ing thriller called The Girl With All The Gifts

We live in a highly dis­tract­ing world. In­for­ma­tion that used to be scarce now bom­bards us like bul­lets, never end­ing and overwhelming. Be­cause of this over­load, books need to be thin­ner and come in nib­ble sizes that can be di­gested quickly. Other­wise, we will head away from re­al­ity and into fic­tion for fic­ti­tious so­lace.

Af­ter decades of switch­ing back and forth be­tween fic­tion and non-fic­tion, Abby Wong has de­cided that the In­ter­net pro­vides the best non-fic­tion. Fic­tion, how­ever, still comes best from the minds of in­ge­nious fic­tion writ­ers, cap­tured on printed pages. Share your views with her at star2@thes­tar.com.my.

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