"A room without books is like a body without a soul."
-- Marcus Tullius Cicero
Truer words have seldom been spoken. Being an innate bookworm, I find it rather hard to digest when I hear people say that they don’t enjoy reading or are not too fond of books. Given a chance, i would like to believe that most of them are closet readers; but knowing that the reality is far from the same, my next bet would be to shake them hard and ask – are you mad?
I, for most part, just cannot imagine a life without books! The best memories of my childhood have revolved around me reading, from English textbooks to Tinkle, Chandamama and Amar Chitra Katha. Books were my refuge! They gave me siblings i wish i had, entertained me to bits on days, when my parents were busy with life, gave me friends, i knew i never had! They made me feel much cooler about myself than i may have actually been. I was never an outdoorsy person, and books complemented my nature completely. Most evenings i would be holed up with a book in a corner, waiting for my dad to come, when my mom would literally push (yes, you heard it right, push!) me out of the house to go play! Boy, would i be one pissed kid who would march off, only to return a couple of minutes later under the pretext of being thirsty or having to visit the restroom. Nothing would make me ‘play a game’ over reading! My mom tried her best, but soon gave up all hopes of encouraging me to do anything requiring any kind of physical activity. (But that’s another post)
So books it were! My companions, my friends, my besties! While Alice in Wonderland was completely relatable, as I had an imagination as vivid as hers, Nancy Drew was the coolest girl i knew. The Malory Towers tales made me secretly wish for schooling in a hostel. Life in these books was beautiful, neat and eventful. While my school life was full of Enid Blyton and the World and Childcraft series, my college life introduced me to P. G. Wodehouse. Yes, possibly this introduction was a little later in the day, than what most children start reading it, but it was my pleasure, nevertheless! What a brilliant author! My fascination for reading improved tremendously in college, thanks to a very well stocked and vibrant college library, which housed classics and contemporary alike. So Wodehouse, Dickens, Laxman, Arundhati Roy and Jhumpa Lahiri were all lapped up in equal measure. Here again, most of my friend circle preferred Sidney Sheldon (and boy, was he a rage!), i fell in love with Archer’s Kane and Abel. While completing my CS, John Grisham became my preferred author. His usage of legalese was something that I could increasingly relate to and which made his books very interesting.
My love story with the books continued long after i completed my graduation and professional studies. With the increasing exposure to management and economic books, non-fiction became the new “cool” thing that caught my fancy. Sure, it made me a “geek” overnight, but non-fiction brings with it, a charm and with the right amount of inquisitive mind, it can get you to think and see things and situations in a manner, erstwhile rarely perceived. Books made my life interesting.
And then i met H. I love H, and one of the things which made me gape in awe of him, was his interest and command over some brilliant economic and non-fiction writers. Ofcourse, later he told me, that he wouldn’t be able to complete an Atlas Shrugged (by my absolute favourite author – Ayn Rand) or a Ken Follet, he could read possibly every non-fiction book there could be around. Oh, also additional marks were given for our mutual distaste of CB Novels and all those new-age English authors, which both of us find extremely childish and boring. Some of our best dates have included coffee shops, bookstores (how i absolutely love them) and books. The most romantic thing he has done for me, prior to our marriage also involved a book!
Anyways, before i digress again, books have always played an extremely important part of my life. They have been the one thing which keep me going, which provide me with space when i want to escape from the realities of life, yet sometimes they are the ones which give me the strength to accept certain inalienable truths.
I think the entire process of my attachment to reading began, with a certain incident in Bangalore. My family was vacationing at a relatives home and I was in the first standard (age 5). I managed to read the entire headline of the TOI at one stretch, and boy, were my parents proud! I don’t remember anything else that gave me as much happiness as that moment did. They were beaming, tortured me to read it a couple of more times, in front of all relatives, et all (the typical shin-dig!) and that was encouragement enough – after all, i was the coolest kid on earth! (at least in my head).
This journey i believe is going to be a never ending one. Within 2 months of shifting to my new home, i have already created a stack full of books (Thanks to the Crossword sale) and discovered some wonderful authors (Haruki Murakami – wonderful and beautiful – together!!). Seems like, finally, someday, the dream of having a library of my own, would be true!
P.S: I never lend, so don’t even ask.
P. P. S: I don’t buy the pirated editions either, so yes, this hobby does leave my husband feeling a little lighter! I tell him, this is a substitute for exercising :-P