Of Life, Books and Reading…

The world gets a little too black at times, and feels like a burden. It’s not enough that we have expectations of our own to meet, our own dreams to chase, our own tune to dance to, we have to look around to meet others’ expectation of us, the dreams we don’t always want to, but which they dream for us, and the coercion to dance to their tune, even if it is at the cost of forgetting our own. “No” is not an answer, no matter how valid our case is. Very few, I feel, don’t feel the immense pressure of the questions asked when our answer is “No”. I feel it, and that pressure is enough to test my strength or at least make a dent in my positive spirit.

“Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.”

I fell in love with reading when I was in school. My English teacher inculcated the habit by giving a new book each week and asking us to talk about it in class. But I really discovered its importance when I reached high school. I never went long without reading in those days. I even found a library in my neighborhood, and used to read regularly. At that moment, I didn’t realize that I had the weight of expectations on my shoulders, but looking back, I can see that there was. The constant push from those around me was for higher marks. If I got the second rank, the question would be why I was not ranked first. What took me away from that was the love for reading. I opened a novel, and dived into that world. I used to visit River Heights and Bayport often, solving crimes with Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. I went into The Leaky Cauldron, to the alley behind it and tapped the brick three up and two across from the trashcan, spent the day looking at broomsticks in Quality Quidditch Supplies or having ice-cream at Florian Fortescue’s Parlor. I went around the countryside, cycling with Julian, Anne, Dick, George and Timothy as they had their adventures. I used to read by putting the novel between pages of the huge text books. Wherever the pages took me, whatever world it opened, it took me far away from the formulae in Mathematics, the dates in History and the “maatras” in Hindi. And till the time I was pulled out by my parents, I was happily away from reality.

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“I love books. I love that moment when you open one and sink into it, you can escape from the world into a story that’s way more interesting than yours will ever be.” – Elizabeth Scott

For most of my life so far, I have been an introvert. I could not open up to those around me, and there weren’t any who tried to push me out of my shell. Quite recently, I read something on Facebook which said that if you ask someone who has been an introvert for most of their life to go have fun, they’d possibly go to bed. I would too, with the difference that I’d be curled up under the blanket with a book. At times, I still do prefer that. Nothing beats the company of a really good book. In comparison to those who do not understand me, or want me to change to their version of me, I think a book is an amazing friend. Most would have welcomed the New Year with a party, or by cutting cakes, or watching fireworks, maybe even counting down to the moment the clock struck twelve. I spoke with a really good friend, and then read a book for the next four hours. I didn’t even notice the time pass by. It managed a decent 112 books in the year 2015. I’m happy that I am already a couple of books done with my target for 2016.

“Between the pages of a book is a lovely place to be.”

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Though I’ve always wanted to buy books and start a bookshelf since childhood, that dream became a reality only after I got a job. On some level, I think, I didn’t want to push my requests to my parents. They had their own priorities, for themselves and for me. I made do with the library. The love for books and reading, though, won out in the end. Over the last few years, I’ve bought a lot of books, and rekindled my love for reading, which had started to die down when the library in my neighborhood stopped adding books on a regular basis. I’ve added the Harry Potter Box Set, the complete collection of Famous Five and Secret Seven, the three Khaled Hosseini books, the Millenium trilogy and the Hunger Games trilogy to my shelf, and that’s just part of my book buying. Be it Flipkart and Amazon, or a trip to Blossoms Book Store, the fragrance of a book is just so alluring yet elusive, it’s no wonder that scent can’t be bottled into a perfume.

“You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy books, and that’s kind of like the same thing.”

It was quite by chance, and the will of a blogger, that I became part of the book reviewing journey. I’d thought talking about a book, or writing about its positives and negatives would make the magic of reading dwindle. But it wasn’t that at all. Writing about it made me look at the book in a different way. Reading what others thought of the same book, I realized that the book was completed not by the author, but by the reader. A book I loved was disliked by others, and a book I couldn’t even finish was rated five stars by others. It was intriguing. I joined Goodreads, and the reading challenge there pushed me to read sooner, read better, and read more than I thought I could in a year. I joined challenges hosted by bloggers who are now some of my closest friends. Groups on Facebook, where I met other book lovers, further spurred me to read different genres, going out of the “crime fiction” zone which I loved (and still do love). When we talked of books, the introvert me began to fade into the background. It was like I was talking through books, and it was where I was meant to be.

“There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books.” – Irving Stone

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The world around me, at times, still fails to understand my love for reading and books. It doesn’t understand that reading helps me write better too. And my dream is to be a published writer (or author). Like I said earlier, it tries to push its expectations and makes me dance to its tune. If I had a rupee for every time someone told me, “Why are you wasting money on novels? Buy a book to study, get more experience, and get settled” I’d have enough money to buy more novels. I’ve tried to read less, and see if the path that the world wants me to take is worth it. And I’ve just turned around and walked back to the path that books take me on. Be it books sent by friends, publishers and authors or sites with review programs, or even purchased, reading is something I cannot go without. I’ve even embraced eBooks and bought a Kindle recently (trying hard to not get irritated by the question, “Why not buy a tablet instead? It’s more useful.”) Reading on the Kindle is not the same as reading the paperback of course, but I feel it’s just as fun. And anything that spurs my love for reading is worth it.

“I tried to beat my reading addiction…… worst two minutes of my life!”

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Doing what you love is where happiness lives, and I believe it’s important to be happy. Life is all about living, and that doesn’t just mean earning a lot of money by doing something for the sake of doing it (though I am tempted to do that, seeing that it might get me more money for buying books). I’ve often been told by relatives, “Read while you can. It’ll change after you get married.” And I’ve not heard anything that’s more rubbish than that. Reading is not something that changes with the status of your relationship on Facebook. It’s a passion. It’s an escape from the blackness of reality. It’s something that’s as important to me as writing, for it has brought me back from the worst of times. And the experience of reading an amazing book is something that still puts me at a loss for words at times.

“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times; if only one remembers, to turn on the light.” – Albus Dumbledore

For this bookworm, that light resides in the pages of a good book. And I’ll happily turn the pages to let the dewdrop of my life shine in that light.

Cheers… to reading!


(© 1st January 2016)

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Poetry & writing to me are to me, a breath of fresh air in a life that is sometimes covered by the smoke of sorrow or self doubt. They also become the sweets I share to celebrate when life offers me a reason to. But most of all, they are to me, my life. For each word I write is a piece of my heart, a thought that just had to find its way into the world.

30 thoughts on “Of Life, Books and Reading…

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  1. Brought back memories of my own childhood with Blyton and Christie and Rowling. Curling up with books never gets old; it is something that will always comfort you.

    And kudos over the Kindle! I am trying to get over my own aversion towards e-books. Reading on the phone does save you from getting up and switching off the light at night 😛

    It’s good to be here Leo 🙂

    • Oh. You’re right, Kirta. 🙂 It never does get old. But there are people who think it’s not worth it. which can be irksome!

      The books of Rowling, Blyton & Christie are irreplaceable parts of our childhood, and I knew readers might connect there!

      Kindle is nice. I’m serious. I got over my aversion very soon after I read on it. 😀 I’ts not just the light thingy, it makes it so much easier to read without mom coming and ticking me off. :mrgreen: 😛 🙄

      Good to see you here, kiddo.
      Vinay Leo R. recently posted…Of Life, Books and Reading…My Profile

  2. I kept nodding my head with each line that I read! I completely understand. And about the book shelf, I wanted to have one myself too since I was kid but then I couldn’t. Now that I have started earning, I am taking tiny steps towards fulfilling that dream. Happy New Year! May you read more and yes may you write more!

  3. Wow! I mean this is the first time I am reading so much about books. I wasn’t much into reading till Grade 12. I might have read a few from the Nancy Drew series or Mills and Boon even. Because my Mom and her sisters had this humongous collection of books and I used to sneak in to their library every now and then. It was after the 12th Boards that I found this huge book in Mamma’s bookshelf. I still remember she discouraging me because it actually was was huge. But that decision to read the book opened doors to this world of magic. It was Gone with the Wind and still is my favorite. Nothing could ever beat that.

    Since then I have always bought and gifted books. Having bought a Kindle recently, I am able to read few ebooks as well which I loathed reading on a laptop/tablet/phone. Anyway, I cannot say that stepping into a marriage would change this passion for reading. Maybe you wouldn’t get enough time to read as many books as you do now. I see that you are on a reading spree. I’m blessed to have a partner who would reduce the volume of television, or makes a cup of coffee or even tucks me in bed when I’m fast asleep with an open book in hand. Touchwood! 🙂 Happy reading, V!
    Shalini recently posted…The Madras Affair: Book ReviewMy Profile

    • Our library periods during school days were much sought after by all students, Shalzz. so have never been not into reading! :mrgreen: Yet to read Gone with the Wind though. 😛 😉 One often finds a wonderful book unexpectedly.

      yeah. P would do that, I know. 😀 * touchwood *

      Happy reading year to you too, T! 🙂
      Vinay Leo R. recently posted…Of Life, Books and Reading…My Profile

  4. He does it again! Excellent post to ring in the New Year 🙂

    I love the references to the characters and that took me back to my childhood. And pretty please – Can I quote you?

    Happy New Year – here’s to more books and more reading!

  5. Couldn’t agree with you better, fellow introvert! When I open a book, it takes me to other worlds and there is absolute peace and tranquility. It’s a unique passion and one that is irreplaceable. As long as I breathe, I want to read 🙂

  6. Vinay,

    Loved the post . Thoughtful as always. We have met since more than an year or two, but knowing you have always been great. I understand the being an introvert and dealing with the world around is different, but never felt that you were. Probably depends on who you are talking to I guess.

    Here is wishing you a fantastic 2016 where you’d be able to read many more books, add more books to your library and get published. I look forward to reading a book that holds your name on the cover.

    • Oh. We met only recently, Shravan. 🙂 The introvert part was already fading into the background by then. Maybe that’s why you didn’t feel it! :mrgreen:

      Wishing you a fantastic 2016 where you read more books too, and hopefully, read mine too! Happy New Year 2016! 🙂
      Vinay Leo R. recently posted…Of Life, Books and Reading…My Profile

  7. kept nodding my head!!
    My love for books and reading and exploring is what has kept me sane and happy over the years through all the ups and downs!

    Happy Reading in 2016 as well Leo!! 🙂

  8. I had read some of the post last night and then something came up. Thank you for poking me and make me finish this. Except a few fates and experiences that pushed me to read , I think you covered all the feelings well. I do not write much now days, but then reading some how fills the void.

    Good post Leo. Cheers to reading more and always!

  9. I am an avid reader but nowadays I am very selective. Earlier it was any book. Now I prefer to books that motivate me or keep me happy. I run miles from horror genre, thrillers and murder mysteries.
    I am not an introvert I believe, must be something on the borderline. Waiting for you to earn the author tag. Make it happen soon. 😀
    Preethi Venugopala recently posted…5 lessons from 2015My Profile

    • I never run miles from any genre, except selective non-fiction, Preethi. 😀 It’s fun to read variety of books. I don’t read every book though. 😛

      You aren’t introvert, I believe too. 😉 and yes, waiting to earn the author tag as well. :mrgreen:

  10. I do relate to this introvert bookworm. Because I have a similar one at home. He is a voracious reader. By the age of 11, he had read almost all books from the four Delhi Public Libraries in his locality. The librarian once caught him thinking he is just playing around with the books. When he told her the story from each of the seven books he was carrying, she almost fainted, he told me. Our love itself we owe to our love for words. Over the last few years, I have somehow missed out on the regular reading habit. Motherhood has taken the better out of me. I guess I should challenge myself for a fair number of books in 2016. Reading this was indeed like reading your mind. Straight from the heart of Leo. 🙂
    Rekha recently posted…#WordlessWednesday #1My Profile

    • Oh. That was another me. I used to borrow 3-4 books at a time and read and return them to the local library by the time another member finished just one book. 🙂 Good ol’ days, those were. I miss them. Now can’t read so many so quickly. I think social networking has taken the better out of me. 😛

      Glad you felt like this was like reading my mind, Rex. 🙂 Thank you so much.
      Vinay Leo R. recently posted…Silent SongMy Profile

  11. You spoke my mind in the entire post. The only difference being that I took to reading in college. And I only ask myself why didnt I take up this before? There is an unspoken happiness that I get when I hold a book in my hand. A warmth that spreads all through me reading a good book. The characters, the language and the whole beauty of living as somebody and at someplace you have never been or might never go. I guess questions that you face have been faced by most book lovers. Why waste money.. Marriage wont leave you time for reading and such blah blah.. I guess non readers can never understand the feelings we book lovers have when we hold them.. I was having a discussion with a friends on books and I somehow wrote this.. “Trying to soothe my aching soul with books..” Sometimes, books are all that we need to survive through the day.. Cheers from one book lover to another 🙂

    • I guess it depends on the non-reader, Jyotsna. Some do wholeheartedly accept the books that are part of our life. Some don’t. 🙂 I like those words… “trying to soothe my aching soul with books.” It just fits so nicely. Glad you could understand the post, and relate to it. 😀 Cheers, fellow book lover!
      Vinay Leo R. recently posted…WanderlustMy Profile

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