Those of you who know me would know that one of the things I love most is reading. I can happily spend hours together curled up in a corner with my book. In fact, many schoolmates remember me spending most of my time in the library, while others were busy with sports.
I dedicate today’s post to my best friends, who have been with me unfailingly for nearly 40 years – books!
My family has always had voracious readers. Growing up, I remember we always had Tamil magazines and books in the house which my parents and grandparents read.
My first memory of reading a book is when I was probably 3 or 4 years old. We lived in a joint family of sorts – we had two houses on the first floor that were connected by a corridor. We lived in one and my uncle, aunt & cousins lived in the other. So we were practically in each other’s houses all the time. My cousin who is 10 years older than me was an avid reader. She had taken me to a library and I remember sitting on a floor cushion at the center table and reading because I was too small to sit on a chair and read at the regular table. I initially started with comics. Tinkle, Amar Chitra Katha, Champak, Chandamama, the English version of Gokulam, Sputnik & Reader’s Digest were some of the books that we grew up with. Some we subscribed to and others were borrowed from the library. Either way, each month we would eagerly await the next installment in the stories.
Then when I was about 9-10 years old I got my first library card – to the State City Central Library and it was one of my most prized possessions. Here I started my journey with short stories and novels – Enid Blyton was a favorite followed by Famous Five, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Perry Mason, Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, etc. By then we had moved homes and I had the privilege to access one of the finest libraries in India – the Central Library (now called JRD Tata Memorial Library) of Indian Institute Of Science. Here I spent many evenings during my college days, researching for my subjects. Of course, I still continued my tryst with fiction and borrowed novels from the Faculty Club library of IISc. Jeffery Archer, Sydney Sheldon, Danielle Steel, Jane Austen, etc were greedily devoured. After I got married & set up my own home, I made sure to have a separate space for my books. So the visits to the library decreased as I bought books. In fact, I had accumulated so many books that I set up a community library and ran it for 2 years.
Now I do most of my reading on my Kindle as it is more practical to carry around, store many books and read in bed without disturbing others. But for a book-lover, this can never replace the touch and smell of books. I have safely stored away my personal collection and am always filled with a sense of well-being when I open the box to visit them from time-to-time.
Currently, I am a blogger and a content creator. I credit this skill for writing to my reading habit. It is this habit that instilled the love for words in me and has been instrumental in turning my passion into a means of connecting with a larger audience.
Today, I don’t see many kids picking up the reading habit. They are glued to their gadgets. It is unfortunate when parents don’t realize the importance of inculcating the reading habit in their formative years.
Did you know that there are numerous benefits of reading books?
- The first and most obvious one is that it increases knowledge. It builds up a sense of curiosity to know more about a variety of topics.
- It increases your vocabulary as you come across new words & phrases that are used around the world. As you increase your level of reading, you can also increase your command over the language.
- Because of the above, your writing skills also improve. While you may or may not be able to write beautifully, you will surely develop the skill to write with accuracy.
- Reading improves your mental health as well. You can learn from the psychology of the characters and the relationships described in the books. It is proven that reading reduces stress, helps fight depression, slows down age-related cognitive decline, makes you more empathetic, and helps you relax.
- It sharpens your focus and memory and stimulates your imagination and creativity.
- It helps build concentration, which in turn is helpful academically also.
Books, be it physical or an ebook, are an integral part of my life. Except for brief periods, I think I have read something every single day of my life. In fact, it is an indication that something isn’t right when I don’t read anything for a couple of days. I call books my best friends because they have been there with me through all my trials and triumphs. If I am feeling low or need motivation, I pick up a favorite book and start reading it. Some of the books like Gone With The Wind, To Kill A Mocking Bird & the Harry Potter series have been read so many times that I have lost count. For me, they are therapeutic and cathartic. Though they are fiction, each time I take back something of value when I read them. Books have taught me to stick to my beliefs immaterial of how “uncool” they may be, they have taught me loyalty, perseverance, faith in myself, the value of true friendships and so much more. It is through them that I have lived many characters and experienced many emotions.
What do books & reading mean to you? Are you passionate about them like me? Which are your favorite books? Do connect with me in the comments below.
I dedicate this blog to my cousin Lakshmi, who introduced me to books and opened up a whole new world of possibilities to me.
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