I grew up around books. For whatever reason, they seem to offer to me a safe haven.  From unfriendly To paraphrase Ruskin Bond “Books are never cross, they never fight with you, & are always around when you need them” – & they were. I’m still enamored by them.

The ancestral house we moved to when I was 8 or so had an inherited collection of books, articles, magazines, writings – legacies of my maternal side of the family. Readers Digest editions going back to the 1960’s, copies of Wisdom (a locally published book), essays, they were a godsend to keep me company & out of trouble. I remember reading a children’s version of Uncle Tom’s Cabin & crying my eyes out, the first time ever that a story did that to me. I was hooked. I read every thing I could lay my hands on. Good stuff. Not so good stuff. Lame stories. Fun. Adventure. Sleaze. Spy. Classics. A 10-year old has no idea what constitutes a good or poor choice of books, but I was happy & willing to try.

The first biography I read was Ben Franklin. I was 9 years old. A red, bound book, with profile pictures of a young fellow, discovering himself, & inventing several things along the way – the story was absolutely fascinating. I read & re-read the book. At least a hundred times.

There was Shakespeare in prose form. Another bound tiny book with paintings inside. Merchant of Venice, Taming of the Shrew, & another 6 more, abridged versions that a child could read & get lost in imagination.

The Hardy Boys. Nancy Drew. Famous Five. Other Enid Blyton classics. Cricketing heroes. Louis L’Amor & other country western classics. General knowledge. Algebra. Too many to list here. I couldn’t get enough. I was addicted to printed material. I wonder if there’s a word for it. & in this day & age, I’m sure there’s some authority on the subject who’ll say reading is bad too! 🙂

As I went through school & what passed for education – qualification & education are synonymous for most Indians – I read. & read more. In class. Under the desk. On my way to school. On my way back. I did have other things to do, but reading was like a high I couldn’t get from anything else.  My spoken english got better, as did my writing. It still is going through evolution. Like life itself.

For the last 5 years or so, my reading has been more of the classics authors – Jane Austen, Rudyard Kipling, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Plato, Aristotle.. – Autobiographies, biographies, philosophy, history, scientific thought, reasoning, creativity.  I guess the older I’ve grown, the more I’ve found that these subjects really have given me an education, while accounting, tax & audit have merely given me a qualification. I spend at least an hour or two every day reading, & will most happily admit that my education continues each day.

To me, reading is not an escape from reality. It makes it more fascinating. Some things have never changed with time. The daily struggles of living. Habits. Motivating. Circumstances & technology might change, but our daily concerns haven’t. Thoughts in words from the past give more ideas on how to surmount them.

What do you read?


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