How often do you stop by an old book store, smile to yourself, walk inside, greet the 50-year old owner, feel the books around you, fell the stories that are waiting to be told, spend hours picking out a book you like, because you cannot decide which one to buy as you really love all of them, hold the book in your hand, sense your stomach flutter with excitement, slowly open the yellow, brittle pages and inhale the aroma of the pages touched by millions and the pages that touched millions, hold the book tight to your chest, close to your heart, walk back and pay for it and keep it with you, forever?
“Why do we need to read more books? The prescribed texts are trouble already!” People who ask this question are on my black list.
People who do this are rare, and are on the verge of extinction. Think of all the books that you have read apart from your school/college prescribed texts? I don’t think that anyone apart from reading addicts would have a long list. “Why do we need to read more books? The prescribed texts are trouble already!” People who ask this question are on my black list. To me, reading is living an entirely different life, where I can be anything, do anything and I get to be Harry Potter as well. Surely, it is exhausting. The reason for this is not that I sit with a book and read it without feeling the need to change, eat, drink or use the bathroom. The exhaustion comes from living the lives of the characters that I read about. If I’m lucky, I’d live two or three characters’ lives at the same time. If my mother decides to get me tested, unlike Sheldon Cooper, I won’t be seen as someone who is ‘FINE’. People may call it escaping reality; I call it living as many lives in just this single life given to you.
The sheer joy of opening the first page of the book and the entire experience of reading a book for the first time is as good as having an Irish coffee. Of course, the experience is enhanced if you have a mug of Irish coffee along with the book.
I expect nothing out of people as I know people have limitations and tend to remain the way they are. Love me, unconditionally, for I may expect you to be my Byronic hero, but I shall never hate you or despise you for being yourself. Hate me, because hate is yet another kind of liberating emotion, and even the strongest people experience hate. I will forgive you, for I know that you can always write a sequel to your current book, which did not have a happy end. I know that starting afresh is possible and in the end, it’s possible to live together happily ever after.
No, I’m not living in a fictional world. Think of all the people around you who read. Think of that girl who works at a book store and reads as she works, of that boy who hides a novel behind his office files, of that woman who stays up at night just to finish the last five chapters of her novel even though she has to get to work early next day… Think of that friend who never calls you to talk about senseless, self-obsessed issues, but someone who is always happy with a book, that someone who always dreams that someday, they would be just like their favourite character, that life will never desert them and in the end, everything will be all right.
People who read are patient and are willing for you to grow up. They allow you to make mistakes, give you second and third chances.
Reading gives you strength to accept people as they are, no judgment to be passed. It teaches you love, in its own crazy, twisted colour. It gives you faith and hope. Even if people who read live in a fantasy world, their world tend to mirror the other worlds and if everything is fine in the other, eventually their own life would be fine. People who read are experts on everything because you see; they have experienced every emotion, every struggle and every conflict faced by the characters that they have read about. People who read know that you can always read a book but that you need to make it your own in order to relate. People who read are patient and are willing for you to grow up. They allow you to make mistakes, give you second and third chances. They do this because they believe that you are a good person, capable of love and compassion. You can also fight with them for they will always fight back but in the end, they would be the ones apologising because fights lead to an end, a climax or even better, a new beginning.
It kills me today, when I see people who lose their mind over a slow internet connection, people who begin their day by watching television, people who gossip so much and people who are always talking to someone or the other, be it personally or on the phone, people who pass by a book shop without even acknowledging it, people who do not recognise great creators when they walk by them, people who consider books to be lame and are running after ‘COOL’ new technology, and people who want to read but do not read because they are afraid to be judged.
Normal and regular people die and take birth again in order to live a different life; people who read are already living as many lives as they could.
I will not say that they are missing something in their lives. Come on, they are happy doing what they do, they must be happy, but if I want to say something to these people, it would be this: when you refuse to read a book, you not only lose the chance to experience an entire different life from others, you also give up on making your life colourful. Normal and regular people die and take birth again in order to live a different life; people who read are already living as many lives as they could. You lose out on a chance to feel loved, to feel that you are not alone, and to feel that being imperfect is okay.
I am sure whatever you are doing with your life is important, but take some time out to walk into a book store. You may not know the magic of the place, you certainly have no idea about the exotic fragrance of the old, yellow pages, nor do you know the stories and the characters that you are about to unravel. You are unaware of the fact that when you buy a book, you give it a chance to tell you its story. But soon, as soon as you buy your first book, you will realise that life goes much beyond just living, that there is no end to a really good story, that books and people, when read and listened to, make sense. You will see different places, live lives, be a wizard or a lion or a snake or even God, someday when you are old and suffering from memory loss, you will forget small details about yourself but these stories will stay with you. Always.