My family is extremely passionate about reading and it got passed down to me as well. My mom used to buy so many books for me and my brother when we were little. We always had something to read. We also have a habit of reading while eating, passed on to us by both my grandfathers. My paternal Grandfather used to always read while eating. And my maternal grandfather not only read books while eating, but also solved cryptic crosswords in the newspaper, in his mind! I was in awe of him, he was so brilliant. He was a district judge, so he had an air of a sophisticated and very knowledgeable man. He could also recite all the volumes of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace with great ease.
My mom and I usually always spend an entire day at the local book fairs that happen at least once or twice a year. We end up buying at least 20 to 30 books at a time, roaming around all day, searching even under the tables at the stalls. Our home is filled with books, inside a huge trunk, on the bookshelf, on the bed and on as many surfaces as possible. We often joke that we might need to rent another place just for our books.
I remember reading and re-reading Herman Melville’s The Moby Dick. I love that book so much! The first line itself gives me major nostalgia and it is still my favorite book. I passed down my precious book collection to my little cousin sister years ago, but I kept Moby Dick for myself and I still have it. Another book I remember re-reading was King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table by The Illustrated Classics. There was something about both these books that appealed a lot to me. Although it’s been a while since I have read either of them.
There are some books whose first few lines bring a flood of emotions and memories of the times when I had first read them, two of them being my absolute favorites; Moby Dick and Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. They still deeply resonate with me.
“Call me Ishmael. Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation.” – Moby Dick
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” – A Tale of Two Cities
I have grown up loving Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Alexandre Dumas, the Bronte Sisters, etc. Very recently I bought an almost rare, “Complete Works of Shakespeare”, all his masterpieces in one book in their original verse form. It was an expensive acquisition but I couldn’t control myself. I read a little bit of it whenever I get a chance to. I had “The merchant of Venice” in my first year of college and “King Lear” in the second year. It was especially amazing to study, “The Merchant of Venice”, I loved re-reading it. The Shakespearean verses are really beautiful to listen to when read out aloud. I also had Jane Austen in college. She represented the social issues of her era so wonderfully in her books. Her description of the people of those times and how much they were obsessed with marriage and social status was perfect. Every time I read about Mrs. Bennet crying about her poor nerves and Elizabeth Bennet rising above the trivialities of her family, I laughed heartily. I often used to dream of heroes like Mr. Darcy and Mr. Rochester in those teenage years. Their existence is still a mere dream.
The Romantic Era was truly remarkable. The authors and poets in that era wrote masterpieces that defied the conventions of those times. They wrote some beautiful and inspiring pieces that can make us feel so happy. The imagery of the pastoral landscapes was written so beautifully, we can imagine it all in our minds so perfectly, as if we are right there witnessing all that is being described. The classics are truly a pleasure to read, no matter how many times we might have already read them before.
And it’s not just the classics that I love to read; I also love reading novels. But not the Mills & Boon variety; I love books that have a lot of action. I love science/marine thrillers, political thrillers, treasure hunt thrillers, suspense thrillers, murder mysteries, etc. I love novels written by Clive Cussler, Dan Brown, Sidney Sheldon, Jeffery Archer, Robert Ludlum, Lee Child, Tess Gerritsen, etc. Clive Cussler is my favorite, his books have a combination of history, science, archeology, treasure hunt, action and adventure, which really transport me into another world. From the first page to the last, his books are very exciting.
I am an absolute bibliophile. Even if I get to read 10 pages a day, I will read them. I always carry a book with me. Books fire our imagination; they conjure up the imagery in our minds. Just like Harry Potter’s journey to the Hogwarts or the journey of the Pevensie siblings into the magical Narnia, books transport us into another world. We can escape into an adventure which has the ability to alter our perceptions, open our minds to various different eras and cultures, giving an insight into the lives of the characters we come to love. If I really love a book and it has had a profound impact on my mind, I need a few days of respite before I can pick up another one.
Recently, I could not read at all for some time, because of time constraints. But I felt like my life was incomplete, as if a part of my heart was missing. I was reading The Martian by Andy Weir and I had only finished half of it. And not because the book was bad, it’s actually a really beautiful book, the story is inspiring and the imagery is absolutely beautiful. I enjoyed reading it. It was just the time that was the problem. But one day I just picked it up and finished it in 3 days.
It felt so good to pick it up again and read. I love the smell of books, I love to have them on my hands when I read them. E-books are not my thing. I tried reading a few E-books but failed each time, I could not even get past the first page. But an actual physical book makes me happy. There are times when I end up reading an entire night or when I re-read books multiple times because of how they make me feel. Some stories are so touching or they are so interesting that reading once just isn’t enough. My soul feels at peace and there seems a balance in life when I read.