” I assure you , sir, Literature is a drug.”
My love for books started as a kid. I clearly remember the days, I used to visit my grandfather in Delhi, and he would fondly introduce me with the books he believed I will enjoy reading. I come from a small town where we have bookstores selling only school textbooks, and so he started sending me parcels every month which contained the monthly edition of Magic Pot, Children’s Digest, Wisdom, Fairy Tales and several other kids magazines. As I grew, my reading priorities shifted from story books to course textbooks but to my surprise I took pleasure in reading them ( English and Hindi Literature) as well. In a few years, I started buying books and building up my personal collection. I started taking good care of them and made sure they lay neatly stacked in my shelf – each book in pristine condition, devoid of bent edges, folded pages, and food in creases.
There was a period when I shared a similar level of diversion towards both sketching and reading , and here I am trying to remember the last time I drew something with complete attention. My interest towards sketching faded, whereas my inclination towards reading only raised.
” The habit of reading is the only enjoyment in which there is no alloy; it lasts while all other pleasures fade.”
While in college, I had a fair share of problems to deal with, and I am the kind of person who is not open to taking judgements from people who barely know me. No matter how honestly you open up to someone, there are still things you can’t reveal. Sometimes people think they know you. They know a few facts and they piece you together in a way that makes sense to them, and if you don’t know yourself very well, you might even belief that they are right.
” Books are the most mannerly of companions, accessible at all times, in all moods, frankly declaring the author’s mind,without offense.”
-Amos Bronson Alcott
To escape the reality, I indulged myself into the solitary act of reading, and all it demanded was a space for thinking and dreaming that books provide. When a read a book I become so emotionally invested in it , that when I walk around public places after reading it I feel like I am in this bubble by myself , and I am so deeply inside my mind I am actually out of touch with reality. Holding and reading a book relaxes and invigorates me — and it is one of the few activities that can cause me to totally lose track of time.
While I certainly appreciate the convenience and cost-savings of Amazon Kindle, I cherish physical browsing and shopping experience of a real book store and hence I ensure to never lose a chance to delight my senses with the visions of a book dedicated space. I highly respect the amount of time and expertise it has taken an author to research and craft a 200+ page book, and I relish the process of immersing myself in that one area for an extended period of time. Since knowledge and sneaking into an unknown world are my primary reasons for reading books, I always read with a pencil in hand so I can underline key passages as I go. Then after finishing each book, I go back through the underlined sections and manually fill my diary with my key takeaways from that book.
I always feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment after finishing the three-step process of reading, underlining, and jotting down my favorite lines. It is at that point that I feel truly ‘done’ with a book and ready to move on to the next one. Reading therefore not only fulfills my interests, but also serves as a springboard for sharing what I learn. I figure if these insights help me, they likely will help others as well, especially for people who do not have the time to read as many books as I do.
This amount of effort might seem crazy to some people, especially since I am not being paid and nobody is asking me to do it. But reading books in this focused manner gives me so much joy precisely because it is what I want to be doing. Even after a long work day, I find it energizing to take on this additional learning during my ‘down’ time, because it is how I choose to spend the time.
I love everything about books – fictional piece of accessories, paperbacks, hard-bound books, new books , second-hand books – I love second-hand books that open to the page some previous owner read oftenest. It’s quite nice then to come across a passage and find it marked already, to read a word you don’t understand and discover its meaning in the margin, to know that not just the story you read but the very book you hold has been read and loved by another.
” Nothing links man to man like the frequent passage from hand to hand of a good book.”
People who gift me second-hand books are my favorite kind. I appreciate their generosity of making someone happy by presenting the book they loved reading, only because they wish to familiarize that person with the joy and wisdom the book enriched them with. There’ll be those who won’t agree; readers who need a clean, fresh copy of a book they can make entirely their own, so that it only falls open to the pages they love best, and the only ink it carries comes from the printing press or their own pens. Sometimes I agree with them, but my reasons are perhaps not always the same as theirs. A new book, fresh off the press, has room for memories and imprints. It allows me to take it in, love it, let it remember me. And then maybe one day, it’ll reach someone else, so that they too will find that sometimes rupees can buy you not just a book but a lifetime of memories.
” A literary influence is never just a literary influence. It’s also an influence in the way you see everything in the way you feel your life.”
No blog or lines quoted by famous authors is enough to speak of my love for books, but here is a small attempt to let you know that books make for a great companion and that a relationship shared with them, will always bring out the best in you.