I am no philosopher, no poet, no author. But with a tenacity I say — I am a reader. And so, being a reader, I feel these words -
“For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”
There are people who have experienced the unique vistas that only good books can provide. Then there are those who haven’t. This is my effort to introduce such people to the fantastic world of books.
I remember how I came across my first ever novel- The Ship of Adventure, by Enid Blyton, which I had won by coming third in a storytelling competition in grade 3. I looked at the nice cover page picture, turned the pages, saw the printed letters with no pictures, then threw the book into my cupboard’s dark corner and didn’t see it again — for the next several months. I found it unexpectedly while cleaning the cupboard next summer and the 10-year-old me fell blissfully into the amazing adventures shared by Philip, Jack, Dinah, and Lucy-Ann. From there onwards began my reading journey.
On my eleventh birthday, one of my cousins gifted me a book that would open yet another wonderful world for me- the magical world of Harry Potter. Potterheads out there would relate when I say that I spent days and nights walking down the halls and corridors of Hogwarts, alongside Harry, Ron, and Hermoine. These were the ones who made me realize what true friendship is, how love is by far the most powerful magic of all, and that good overcomes all evil. Growing up with Harry and his friends has been one of the most beautiful experiences for me and thousands of other lucky kids. Words cannot describe my love for this series, nor my gratitude to J.K. Rowling for sharing this amazing world with the likes of me.
The Hobbit is a story in which a comfort loving hobbit duels a dragon and triumphs all dangers. We get to know of the Middle Earth, inhabited by dwarves, elves, goblins, wizards, and of course, hobbits. This amazing book is followed by The Lord of the Rings trilogy- a story of grandeur, honor, culture, and most importantly, a story of finding courage in the most unexpected places. This three-book series weaved together by JRR Tolkiens is surely an epitome of fantasy fiction. For me, the best and most satisfying aspect has been that LOTR personifies the greatest, as well as the lowliest of human morals through non-human (but lovable) characters.
“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” — Stephen King
When I think of our understanding of religion, how can I not think of Pi Patel, who was, in his own words “a Hindu, a Muslim and a Christian”. Stranded on a boat with only the company of a royal Bengal tiger in the middle of the Pacific, his story is one that would make you believe in God. This story is The Life of Pi. Reading this book and absorbing its true essence is in itself quite a spiritual undertaking, for which we shall always be grateful to Yann Martel, the prolific author.
The Alchemist, written by Paulo Coelho, shows that some dreams are meant to be followed and that sometimes, the universe takes you to places you never thought of going to, just so that you could appreciate the beauty of this world. Patrick Rothfuss’ kingkiller chronicles introduce us to Kvothe, who has “talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.” Sherlock Holmes’ wit and humor never fail to awe us just as his logic and deduction prowess never fails to baffle us.
“Maybe this is why we read, and why in moments of darkness we return to books: to find words for what we already know.” — Alberto Manguel
These are some of the many books and their characters that I have come across up till now. There are several more characters and books that I feel should get a mention here, but space is my constraint. All these books have played a great role in shaping my mind.
Through these books, I’ve been able to live several lives in just the one — mine. Books prove to be a great solace and great inspirations and based on my experiences, I can surely vouch for the statement’s trueness. My tryst with books, which started with The Ship of Adventure continues to this day, forever expanding my understanding of life in general. These books and several others, which I am yet to come across, have captured within their pages the thoughts and ideas of great people who continue to inspire millions of people like me.
It is strange yet true that books while opening several other worlds, help us understand our own world better. So friends, next time you have difficulty in choosing a gift for someone, never forget what magic a good book can bring in one’s life.
On this World Reading Day, let me end with the words of Louisa May Alcott.
“Take some books and read; that’s an immense help, and books are always good company if you have the right sort.” ―Louisa May Alcott
Stay tuned for more blogs!
Praneet Tiwari, Team Technothlon 2020