The only thing that I repent of all my childhood, and that I could have averted is that I did not read – read books!
The only thing, now, when I am able to earn and it makes me happy about it is that I can buy books – loads of books!
I started reading late, really late. The dusk years of my teenage is when I started reading. In effect then, I have wasted at the least ten years of my life without reading, and that is a big lacuna, which I am trying to compensate ever since I late-started, by reading and also by scribbling my own words and daring it enough to call it as writing.
The reading I speak of in this post is not the newspapers, magazines or academic books – those of course I have been doing, but of the books which are tunnels into the minds of some of the greatest thinkers ever, a lens to look through the worlds as envisaged by the most radical of people, the scribblings of those strikes of geniuses, and the word play of some deeply adorable people. These when encapsulated in a book, and the experience of flipping each of the pages and reading them is one of those irreplaceable pleasures of life.
Being lost in reading is again a bliss only a few lucky ones can savour. To know not the passing of time, the changing ambiance around or missing buses in commute : It is a gift to be able to drown in books.
The constant dilemma of giving up the current slow read for the sake of the latest inclusion in my collection, is the toughest to fight against and I succumb to it most of the times – although I do get back to the previous one. There have been only two or three books which I have taken up and still not completed reading them.
And it is not that I read anything and everything! Reading trash literature is showing disrespect to the act of reading itself, for it encourages more people to write trash. While I intend to keep this post positive, let me not delve into the nature of this trash literature – that critiquing I shall save for another future post.
First book (non fiction)
The first book I to took up for reading and assimilating into me was The Seven habits of highly effective people by Stephen R Covey. Although now it seems silly to me, I think it was a good start and I did assimilate somethings into me. If not anything principally, the word ‘paradigm’ stuck to me from this book. And it is one of my favourite words.
First book (fiction)
The Alchemist was I think the first fiction book I ended up reading and ever since I have tried almost all genres and still would resort to non-fiction as my favourite, unless it is something extraordinarily written, about which I will have more to say in the next paragraphs. Paulo Coelho’s only book I have read is The Alchemist and I remember it for the simple narrative and soothing literature throughout. That I did not pursue more of his books would manifest my perception of the fantasy – destiny – fate tales which are written in a wide variety.
Best book (non fiction)
Non-fiction as a genre in its entirety is what I relish. I aspire to write something vague at least in the near future and as I see myself, I would be comfortable writing non-fiction.
In this regard, there are quite a few books which are my favourites. Memoirs as a whole are the best literature to me. And The Motorcycle Diaries, as expected of me is my favoruite book. This is a book I love it for its simplicity and the transparency that Ernesto Guevara exhibits, for us the readers to witness the birth of Che in him.
Best book (fiction)
Although fiction is harder to write than non-fiction, fiction works impress me lesser, because maybe they leave me less inspired. There is abundant inspiration in them, but the fact that it is not real somehow weakens their impact in me. It might seem silly, but I think I subconsciously end up being skeptical of the inspiration I could absorb in these works.
Nonetheless, there are some works of geniuses which are hard to be immune to. I would have two books to mention here:
1984 by George Orwell : I think it is one of those really agonsing books one could ever read. Negativity throughout, yet so believable. The details of the dystopia Orwell brings to life leave one stirred and disturbed. Deeply moved by this book, I did write a piece myself about the future of the Internet.
The Picture of Dorian Gray: This book maybe because it is the only novel by Oscar Wilde and that I am such a big admirer of him. The book is garnished with some of the best lines ever written and one cannot be more witty, and at the same time as sharp at criticising the society as Oscar Wilde.This masterpiece is again, not a happy story, but I think I prefer negativity in fiction and inspiration in non-fiction. This book is one of the best fiction works ever written.
Most powerful book
I did not want to fit this book in any other category than being the most powerful book I have read, and it did have tremendous impact on me. Made me stronger, independent, rational and left me confused.
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, for all the bashing it gets is still one book I admire not for the individualist principles she preaches in her works. But for the strong portrayal of characters she etches out. I have aspired to be the Howard Roark, and the John Galt, but not as the ruthless ones she portrays.
I like to look at myself as an individualist at mind, and a socialist at heart. Now this might seem super contradicting, but I think I like the blend and it has immensely bettered me in all regards.
As a person, I would of course never want to compromise on my abilities for whatever reason, but I will use these for the world around me to get better. That is the individualist at mind and socialist at heart in me.
Not the romantic books I speak of, but my romance of books. I barely noticed this obsession in me, but when I could look up and take notice of it, I already had a tangible collection of varied literature – had grown obsessed over it and now I treasure it.
I will forever be the puritan and can never let go the the tangible books for the electronic versions, at any cost. Another small nuance of my reading habit is that I never like to let go a book I have read myself. So, I do not hire books from libraries – the sensation of that separation is bad for the reader in me. Appending to this trait is also my reluctance to borrow books, and the couple of books I have borrowed have not been returned 😛
Until for long I was very hesitant to lend my books, but now with the new diaspora I interact with it has become necessary and even with my frail memory I keep track of them and never miss one!
So, if you have one of my books, I know you have it and if you are done reading do return it to me 😀
Reading, and now writing are as I see going to be my companions through all phases of my life, and with every lesson I learn about the weaknesses of dependence I rely more on these sources to yield me respite, motivation, strength and just the fuel to carry on, not just carry on but to propel like I always do.
Ideas are immortal, but they are kept alive through reading and writing.