This year has been a really great year for me in terms of reading. Since childhood, I have been an avid reader. The first book that I have ever read apart from my school books was a 'Champak'. Every month my dad would get this for us and I would devour it as soon as possible. The tiny book suddenly was the center of my universe and was my first step towards reading. 'Wisdom' also was a magazine that my parents used to subscribe. While I was too young, I found it difficult to read it. It was too "wisdomous" for me. But as I grew up, this book became really important to me. Every book was filled with great stories and soulful poems. But the best part of this book was the quote that was present on every page of the book. I used to steal them for the 'Thought For The Day' at school.
Then 'Tinkle' created a big splash and I drowned in it. Just when I thought that this was the best of the book world, I stumbled across a 'Secret Seven' book. This was a really old book that once belonged to some cousin of mine. The pages were yellow and the book was really old. 'Secret Seven Fireworks', I remember the title way too well. This was the first "novel" that I ever read. I fell in love with it and soon I was hunting for libraries around the place I stayed to borrow some more of these series. How did I know it was a series? Well, it said so in the book and all the other titles were listed. The hunt for a library was not easy, as most famous libraries were asking for a few hundreds in deposit and my financial status back then did not allow me to do that. Finally after a few months of re-reading the same books, I found a library that asked for fifty rupees as a deposit and had a per day charge for every book. The charge was measly. It was a rupee per day for a comic or a magazine and quarter/half a rupee for novels. That is when I realized that I had found heaven.
I soon discovered Agatha Christie and was enchanted. The mysteries thrilled me and left me wanting for more. My first step towards a proper novel came in the form of Sidney Sheldon. I was in the eighth grade and 'Tell Me Your Dreams' was the book that I had borrowed from the library. I remember sitting up all night and completing the book in one go. I was blown away. After borrowing more books from the library, I realized that I did not enjoy parting with them. That is when I began to save up money to buy books. Pirated copies of books were available cheap back then and I used to get about four books for a hundred bucks. Thus started my collection that is with me till date. My school had a really huge library and one section in particular had caught my eye. Classics. Sadly, they were not allowed for eighth graders. I begged, cajoled and pleaded with my librarian to lend me one of it. Finally after much hesitation I was given the original 'The Merchant Of Venice'. I finished and returned it the next day in perfect condition. I had no problem borrowing classics from that day on.
Reading continued to be a very important part of my life and I held on to it strongly as it was making me a better and smarter person. While reading is mostly for entertainment, it teaches you so much. It takes you to a different world and teaches you so many new things. New words, new situations and it polishes you until you shine. Sidney Sheldon was soon replaced by Dan Brown and then I discovered Jeffery Archer and Danielle Steel. While I had read Mills & Boon earlier and loved it, the stories of Danielle Steel shook me to crazy levels. No mystery, no thrill and yet her stories held on to a reader so tightly. I've learnt so many life's lessons from her books. When I discovered Jeffery Archer's books I thought that there was nothing better than that in the whole world. One by one I read his books and got so entwined in them. I purchased 'The Godfather' on an impulse and it is till date my most favorite book. I haven't read anything else from Mario Puzo since then as I did not want to tarnish the image of this book.
Thrillers, mystery, crime and drama are my favorite genres. Romance, not so much. While I've read and loved 'P.S I Love You' and 'A Walk To Remember', other rom-coms have not stood out for me. The much hyped 'The Fault In Our Stars' turned out to be a damp squib for me and I was done with love and romance for good. I have read many many books since then and have discovered so many wonderful writers. Stieg Larsson, Keigo Higashino, Gillian Flynn, Vladimir Nabokov, Roald Dahl, P.G. Wodehouse, J.K Rowling, Paula Hawkins etc. I still am not one to pick up books by Indian authors. Anita Nair and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni are an exception. Others are a pain to read and is mostly overloaded with sex or too tedious in writing. I realized that if I wanted to keep my pace of reading and the love for it intact, I need to stay away from Indian authors. Maybe some of them are good, but I'll take my time with them.
Reading did take a break when I met Cal and decided to get married. He was a voracious reader too and most of our conversations revolved around books. Since most of our free time was spent with each other, reading took a backseat but the thought never did. It was difficult to get back into the wave of reading as marriage brings with it a lot of responsibilities. Also, not everyone around would understand your passion for reading. A couple of years passed and no reading happened. But once we moved out to a place of our own, the reading vibe came back in full force. One book at a time and although I struggled to get into pace initially, I was able to read a few books last year. This year reading was the utmost priority as I was missing it terribly. Good books and some better planning helped me get through my target.
As long as I have my sight in place, I'll read. I write because I read. I am what I am because I read. My reading has time and again shifted from paperbacks to the kindle, but that is for another post.
What's your reading story?