“If you love books enough, books will love you back.”
― Jo Walton, Among Others
“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house.
― Henry Ward Beecher
Well, I guess you got it. I love books. I’ve always loved books. Though I have to admit, I haven’t really read all my life the way I would have wanted to, primarily because of 2 reasons – first, I was born in an average middle-class family in India where buying story books for pleasure was an absolute extravagance, and second, where were there so many options as the privileged lot of today has? So I grew up with the only literature known at that time – Indian mythology (I can never thank Amar Chitra Katha enough for my undying love for Indian mythology, and the lovely family friends who used to lend me the books to read) and Panchatantra tales. My father encouraged reading a lot – from classic English Literature (Shakespeare to Arthur Conan Doyle to Thomas Hardy to Somerset Maugham) to the boring ‘The Times of India’. To my dad, who could manage to read books from a library only when he started working, anything other than pure British classic fare was trash! Ohh! How the eloquent descriptions would kill me then! I would be constantly reminded to use the dictionary if I got stuck – vocabulary building was something I had to do on my own! But today, I thank him for planting the seed of reading in me. Over a period of time, I started reading voraciously.
There is pure pleasure in immersing yourself in a book. The cover, the title, the style of writing… There is something in every book dear to you that will be eternally etched in your mind. Some lines that can never ever fail to enchant me and other book lovers, I’m sure, are -
Charming opening lines –
‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
"To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman."
– Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes : A Scandal in Bohemia
Lines that capture the essence of the book and give meaning to it -
“I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks.”
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
“If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders - What would you tell him?"
I…don't know. What…could he do? What would you tell him?"
― Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
“You’re just a young kid. What are you doin’ here? What are ya doin’ here, for Christ’s sake? What’s funny about that? Jesus, I mean, you guys do nothin’ but complain about how you can’t stand it in this place here and then you haven’t got the guts just to walk out!”
― Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
“For you, a thousand times over”
― Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner
Eternal, lasting closing lines –
"After all, tomorrow is another day."
Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind
"The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."
George Orwell, Animal Farm
Today, my favourite kind of books are those written by Indian authors! Yay! There is a lot of good literature being written in India and I always keep my eyes open for a good book - and I’m not disappointed at all! Though our tastes are completely diverse, my husband also nurtures a great love for books and rues every day the lack of time to get back to active reading. Which, err, quite makes me realise that in spite of writing with such zeal and nostalgia, I must confess, I’m digressing!
The purpose of this blog is our 4 year old daughter, really. She is the nucleus of our life and is increasingly becoming the reason for everything I do, quite sometimes without me really wanting to! I think I would be quite distressed if she had not taken after us with the reading habit. But I guess, some things in life fall in place, (knock on wood, you!) :-) Through her I have discovered another joy – picture books!! Ohh how we absolutely love them! Like someone said, ‘A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.’ It’s true, it’s so true!! The colours, the illustrations, the vibrancy, the words, the rhymes, the happy feel – I feel most alive when I sit with my girl and a book to read out to her. There are times when I actually end up flipping the pages and reading them myself while my girl gets all cross for having ignored her!
We shifted to the UK almost a year back and I discovered the amazing public library system. It is so wonderful! A whole library full of the best books for all, so easily accessible. But what got my heart singing with joy was the children’s section. Our world has widened in the past year and so has our library! I have been reading to my little one (who I will call A on this blog) ever since she was a year old. Though being in my new world now, I rue about why did I not start sooner.
A’s favourite pastime, her favourite game, her idea of a reward, her 2-minute break – is reading a book. At any given point of time, we read at least 4-5 books every day. If I am busy, she would pore over a pile of books that she would collect from the book shelves, looking at pictures. Sometimes she will pretend to read out from a book that we have already read, to all her soft toys. The children are introduced to a lot of books at school here. So at times, when I try to surprise her with a new book, I would be quite peeved when she would say ‘I’ve read this in school!’. The worst punishment for her is not a timeout or no TV, it is ‘no reading at bedtime!’. She would repeatedly tell my husband and I, ‘I love my toys and my soft friends, but I love my books like nothing else!’ She is like a little caterpillar who has come out of its egg and has a voracious appetite for books – and will now make the journey of transformation into a beautiful butterfly that will make the world a more beautiful place (obviously inspired by ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ by Eric Carle – among A’s favourite books). Pardon the use of the pompous simile – I couldn’t help myself!! :-D
This blog is for me to record our lively and happy journey which we hope will go on forever. I don’t want to call them reviews, but I will share here our experience and takeaways from books that we read. Someday, when she is all grown up and a fine young lady making her mark in the world, I would love for her to read these pages and experience all over once again, the infectious enthusiasm that she shows today as we read together.
I want to close this post with the most fantastic quotes ever that a writer, especially of books for children, could have penned, in my limited knowledge as on date – Dr. Seuss! His books and style of writing have to be experienced to be understood. Almost all his books amazingly reach across to you, urging you to assert your individuality, which is among the best lessons that you can impart to your little one. I personally am a recent entrant into his fan club and so is my daughter who loves his zany, crazy lines!
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”
― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the thinks you can think!
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
― Dr. Seuss, Happy Birthday to You!
And to begin our journey, a line that is more of a disclaimer :-)
“So many books, so little time.”
― Frank Zappa