apple-coder-coding-7114

What are the topics that authors need to explore more in their books?

Henry Ward Beecher said, “Books are the windows through which the soul looks out”. I have always found that statement quite thought-provoking and curious. It always made me wonder as to what the soul does when we aren’t reading books. What is a soul anyway? This is not the first time anyone has heard this question. The funniest and the most common answer for this question, however, was given by Brendan Fraser in his movie ‘Bedazzled’. 

Our souls are imprints of ourselves. The true image of our mind. It reflects our actions, our thoughts, our inner desires. The more happy and beautiful and selfless our minds are, the more radiant our souls. Atleast that’s what I think. I might be wrong. 

So. When do souls look out? 

It can be rephrased to – When do our minds look out? When does our mind crave a change of views? I think it is when our minds tackle problems that are unfamiliar that it looks out for inspiration (or rather hope). Our souls look our through the windows to find a fresh outlook. A new perspective. Maybe even a tiny sliver of hope when everything around is failing. 

At times like these, there is no better companion than a good book. Books have the unique ability to transport us into new dimensions, show us how people live in faraway lands, how people tackle the problems they face, how people come out of tragedies and conundrums as better versions of themselves. 

But…this is not the case all the time. At times, there is just no book that can tell us how to face a certain challenge. And this happens more often than not. The reason….authors don’t want to write about controversial topics like feelings, depression, heartbreak, anger, addiction, recovery or hatred. Authors nowadays want to reach a wide variety of audience and have their books go down in history for being accessible and relatable to a majority of the population. Writing about controversial topics and feelings do not exactly have the same effect. Books on feelings or addictions or depression have niche audiences. Not everyone would pick one of these books from a bookstore for reasons like embarrassment or doubt.

For instance, one of the best books (self-help or otherwise) that I have read and cherished for a long time is a book by Andrew Carnegie called ‘How to win friends and influence people’. As I am a bookworm from a very early age, I read this book when I was in high school. I still remember the look people gave me when they saw the cover of the book I was reading. The ones who didn’t know the author or the quality of the content had expressions of pity, empathy, sorry all rolled into one. And I have heard from many fellows readers that people like pulling our legs when they learn that we have a self-help book in our hands. 

I for one have great respect for people who read self-help books. Shows me that they are committed to change for the better. Shows me that they are not afraid to look for help. People turn to other sources like friends, influencers, books when they need help getting through something they are not familiar with. When they need something that they couldn’t find within themselves. So far, I have seen a very little number of books that touch topics like depression, failure in relationships, failure in career and similar topics that actually have any helpful advice or roadmap. Sure…these are topics that do not warrant or have a certain fixed roadmap but multiple roadmaps and solutions that have worked for different people in different situations are better than no roadmap at all. I do wish that more authors explore these topics in mainstream books and novels. 

Because there is an audience. And a very big one too.

The rise of Quora in the modern digital age is no small feat. It is one perfect example of supplying a demand. There have always been people with questions and there have always been people with answers for those questions. And a lot of times, people who have the answers prefer to answer anonymously because the answer might be related to an instance of their lives that they don’t want to acknowledge privately. A majority of people use Quora to gain answers for getting through tough times or making decisions that can change a life. Another thing that can be taken from the Quora case, is that people love to share stories. Everyone is trying to help others to not make the same mistakes that they did.

So if mainstream authors came up with quality content exploring topics that haven’t been explored before or those that have been considered controversial, there is an audience.

Mainstream authors however are more interested in the commercial appeal of their work nowadays. With books of subpar storylines and extremely far-fetched romances or family drama topping bestseller lists worldwide and making deals to have their movies made, authors have made the choice to keep churning out content with unfathomable amounts of cheesiness. It has come to a point that it seems the goal of these so-called celebrity authors is to design every teenager’s daydreams come true. And the weapons they command for this battle: Swoon inducing encounters between a boy and a girl, cheezy dialogues, and overusing serendipity to the point of disgust.

And so if more mainstream authors and books explore topics like fighting depression or getting out of a toxic life cycle or making better career decisions or getting rid of an addiction or even getting back from a breakup, I think books will make a meaningful and significant comeback into the daily routine of people. People will rely more on the written word of authors than fake news and pseudo-happiness provided by social networks and fake news.

 

Jesil K Jose

Jesil is a 23-year-old engineer and entrepreneur with a great love for good art and cultures. He is a bookworm through and through and enjoys reviewing books in his spare time. He is also an amateur blogger and writes on topics that make him curious. He enjoys reading novels and self-help books when he isn't coding or running a company.

book-bindings-books-indoors-2041540

How books have taken a back seat in today’s digital world?

I’ll be honest, this is a topic that I have always wanted to explore based on personal experiences and thoughts. I have been an avid reader and a bookworm for a long time. Since my first picture book in kindergarten probably and I have always loved them. That interest and love for the written word only grew as time passed. They kept me company when the real world was too much to handle and became my refuge. I loved books more than people. They were less complicated, easy to get through, and never judged. They were my great escape. Took me to far away places where I got to live the lives of the characters, walk through dark alleys and eery forests. They took me on roller coaster rides of emotions and taught me more about life than any school or friend or family ever could. There was a time when I read a new novel every 3 days.

But as time passed, I noticed that my priorities had changed. I had given up reading novels in favor of schoolwork and a new thing called the internet. A further self-analysis made me realize that more than school work, it was the new found curiosity for surfing through the great internet that distracted me more.

I used to be the person who loved reading newspapers and books in my free time. But now, I spent every waking minute and free time glued to a screen spending time on stuff that was in no way doing me any good. From spending hours on social media scrolling through news feeds and trends to playing online games, I had completely distance, no, forgotten about books completely.

The advent of the internet and especially the social networks and associated businesses like online games and platforms have taken over our lives in ways we could never have imagined. Most people don’t need to be told they’re addicted to technology and social media. If reaching for your cell phone first thing in the morning doesn’t tell you as much, multiple scientific studies and books will. And lately, the people responsible for this modern day addiction have come out admitting that this was their plan all along. Recently, Sean Parker, Silicon Valley bad boy and Facebook’s first president, told Axios in an interview that the service “literally changes your relationship with society,” and “probably interferes with productivity in weird ways.” And, he added, “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”

Facebook’s main goal is to get and keep people’s attention, Parker said. ”The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them, … was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’”

Attention, he said, was fueled by “a little dopamine hit every once in a while,” in the form of a like or a comment, which would generate more content, in the forms of more likes and comments.

“It’s a social-validation feedback loop … exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.”Parker said that the inventors of social media platforms, including himself, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Instagram’s Kevin Systrom, “understood consciously” what they were doing. “And we did it anyway.”

This is the principle behind every social network and online games today. They give their users a false sense of hope and satisfaction. Our brains are wired to release chemicals like serotonin and dopamine which result in the so-called feeling of satisfaction and/or happiness. These chemicals are by nature designed to be released naturally when triggers are triggered. Triggers like meditation, exercise, winning a deal you had been working on for months, holding your child for the first time, intercourse, etc. What social networks and online games have done is mimic these triggers in the form of social validation. Teenagers who use facebook feel the release of these chemicals when the photo they posted get 100 likes, making them feel like validated members of a pack. Girls feel happy and overjoyed when the popular hot guy likes or comments on their picture.

In short, our lives have turned into a large set of mini-chases for dopamine or serotonin. Social validation and the feeling of being in a pack is our drug and social networks and online games like PubG are the drug dealers. And we are all addicted which in turn makes the drug dealers very rich people. In this chase for fakes, We have forgotten how the natural pleasures of life felt. We have forgotten how it feels to get lost in a world of an authors’ making, to live a mini life inside a book, to learn from characters and their mistakes and strengths and weaknesses.

I have developed something called a productivity factor for my personal use. It’s not a general thing (I don’t know if something with the same name exists, this is something I use in my life). It’s quite simple actually. Our lives are short and we need to spend every second of our time alive like it was out last. So, Everything I spent my time on has to give me something in return, spiritually or physically…….in whatever form it may be. But the return should be something of value. For example, If I spent an hour listening to a podcast, and if at the end of it, I feel I have learned something of value, I call it a value task. At the same time, If I spent hours on a SimCity game building a city and repairing stuff and earning coins which have no consequence in the real world, I call it a zero-sum task (ZST…..like GST but a toxic waste).

Our time is the most valuable thing we have and spending it on ZSTs is actually the most disrespectful thing one can do. Our lives need to matter. We need to learn and understand that we are all here for a reason. To lead, to be an example, to help, to guide, to be there for others, to be human.

I strongly urge you to understand the impact that the digital revolution has brought into our lives. It is a great tool in the right hands when used for the right purpose with the right intentions. Otherwise, it is the greatest weapon of destruction mankind has ever come in contact with. Try to keep a distinction between real life and the digital world.

I have recently started to find my way back into books and let me tell you, it has been the cure to all my problems. Its helped me cope with stress at work, personal issues (most of which apparently stemmed from my digital life), and even helped me get a fresh perspective on things. And I tell you, the joy of going through a novel, going through the elaborate world someone’s imagination created is the best feeling I have felt in my life.

I hope what I have written makes a difference in someone’s life. If not, At least I have said it out loud, and I am happy.

Jesil K Jose

Jesil is a 23-year-old engineer and entrepreneur with a great love for good art and cultures. He is a bookworm through and through and enjoys reviewing books in his spare time. He is also an amateur blogger and writes on topics that make him curious. He enjoys reading novels and self-help books when he isn't coding or running a company.