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My Beautiful and Lifelong Relationship with Books

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”― Oscar Wilde

My Beautiful and Lifelong Relationship with Books
Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.”– William Styron

How It All Started

I have been reading for as long as I can remember.

As my mother tells me, I could read fluently before my first grade. My earliest memories with books are with the ones my mom used to get from her office.

I think everyone in her office knew I read a lot of books. I still remember the set of stories she got when I was sick with chickenpox. It was a calendar with each month having a story, and it was huge (almost A2 size). I was stuck at home, and only had them as companions. They acted like rays of sunshine when I could not do anything else.

When other kids my age used to be playing outside, I used to “hide in between my bedsheets to keep reading (looking back now, it didn’t help save me from my caretaker). I remember my caretaker always complaining to my mother about me reading :).

It all started with short stories like Panchatantra, Akbar, and Birbal, Vikram Betal, (Indian children’s short stories) stories of Indian gods, etc. I used to find them so fascinating! Like the pictures in those books were talking to me themselves.

I could go into my imaginary world about these animals, people, gods, and goddesses, and no one could stop me. I was never fascinated with movies or TV since I found them restricting my imagination of the world. Books were my friends whom I could not part with. I could just keep on reading them without any meal or toilet breaks for hours.

The Shift in Reading

Slowly I started shifting my attention to fiction books with the likes of Nancy Drew, Famous five, Harry Potter, Agatha Christie, etc. Concerning magazines, I used to be obsessed with Tinkle. While all kids used to try to finish their lunch as fast as possible and go to the field to play, I used to run to the school library. It went to the extent that, if anyone was not able to find me, they were sure to find me in the library:)

After a point of time, the school librarian started to save the new books for me. I ended up staying to date with all the books in the library. It did go to the worse side since I used to be reading books even before my exams. I used to try to hide from my mother to read books, scared that she would force me to study for exams and break my reading spree.

The Harry Potter Craze

It was a craze that lasted for a long time, I would say. Especially of Harry Potter, which I’m still crazy about. My friend and I spent hours in class trying to come up with Harry Potter quiz questions, crosswords, and puzzles to give to each other. I think I would have read all the 7 books at least 7 times. I became obsessed with the number. I still remember us “dueling” with each other, shouting spells and hoping sparks would start flying out of our wooden sticks. We even used to enact the repercussions of the spell, like falling or acting dead.

Yes, looking back now, they were probably dumb :). But they are the memories I cherish the most. There have been days where I used to write the letter from Hogwarts (also replicate the handwriting) and post it to my address, to get the “feeling” of getting accepted into Hogwarts.

“One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years. To read is to voyage through time.”– Carl Sagan

Taking a “Break” From My Relationship

My reading took a break during my 11th and 12th grade since I had to prepare for all the competitive exams. I was never the same again. I did go back to voracious reading in college, but it was mostly WattPad (a story-writing platform) and blogs. I don’t remember reading any books as such in college. It could also be attributed, to the fact that I started opening up more in college, meeting more people, and just “experiencing” college.

After I did start working, even though I wanted to read-only hardcovers, I was pushed to move to a digital platform, since it was better to use then. I could read in between office hours if I wanted to take a break or during travel. But something used to be missing in the feeling.

I couldn’t smell the pages, nor could I feel them. I couldn’t highlight or underline wordings I loved (the word highlighting in digital copies is not considered). And somewhere down the line, probably because of social media or work, my reading has reduced drastically.

Yes, I know that anyone can give reasons. It depends on you to work it out. But I have been trying for some time now. I am reading much more than a few months back, but not to my target. I still have a long way to go.

In the Past Few Months…

COVID has helped me to get into the reading spree, kind of. I don’t need to carry books everywhere since I am working from home. I have started to keep my books next to me instead of my phone. So that instead of scrolling through social media, I could read a few pages.

During this time, I realized that I had given up on an integral part of my life. And for no reason. It was almost like giving up on a relationship with the person you love. Without even putting any effort.

Going forward, I would not want to be that woman. Who gives up that easily. I want to work for it. And revive my relationship with books. Probably this is a new start for me. Probably life holds a lot more things. Despite everything, I would want these treasures in the form of paper, stories, and experiences to be a part of my life.

Take Away

From quotes that touched your heart to the pages that changed your life, books have been an integral part of so many of our childhood memories. Many of us have so many personal memories attached to those pages.

If you have been anything like me, losing touch with those pages, now is the right time. If I could rekindle my relationship, so can you. Think about all those times when books bought upon feelings of excitement, emotion, happiness in you. Think about the times when you traveled with the characters in their journey. Think about the time the smell of those pages used to fill you up. Remember those childhood memories and pick your book today.

Originally published here

literature
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Shruthi Sundaram
See all posts by Shruthi Sundaram

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