Books are not the love of my life. I completely identify with Scout (from ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’) when she says, “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” So I’m going to try and explore the reasons for my irresistible attraction towards books in this post. (I sometimes think the feeling is mutual.) Books take me to all kinds of places and different eras. So I’ve suffered through the American Civil War (Gone with the Wind), visited Paris during the French Revolution (A Tale of Two Cities and The Scarlet Pimpernel) and even survived the Holocaust (The Diary of a Young Girl). I have explored the lives of people who lived in 18th century England (Jane Austen), Latin America (Gabriel García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa), Turkey (Orhan Pamuk) and pre- Independence India (Premchand). Above all, my childhood would never have been so wonderful without the magical worlds of J. K. Rowling and J. R. R. Tolkien. Books let me exercise my over-active imagination. They let me experience life through the eyes of a variety of people coping with different situations in life. I feel so sorry for the people who have the opportunity to live only their own mundane lives and have no other imaginary world to fall back on, if the real world gets boring or miserable. Books taught me a lot of stuff that isn’t taught in schools. Life of Pi taught me that we mustn’t give up on life, even if it sometimes gets really tough and the odds are stacked against us. The Fountainhead made me realize that I must live my life on my own terms and not change myself or blindly follow traditions just to please everyone else. To Kill a Mockingbird taught me about justice and compassion and to do the right thing even if the entire world is against you. A lot of books, the most recent being The Fault in Our Stars, taught me that life isn’t fair and the world isn’t always like a wish- granting factory. They even taught me some stuff that I later learnt in school. I first learnt about Newton’s laws of motion and the conservation of angular momentum in The Story of Mr Sommer. I read about relativity in Einstein: The Life and Times and A Brief History of Time. Studying History was always a piece of cake for me, thanks to historical fiction and biographies.
They helped me grow as a person. The Harry Potter series has been the single biggest influence on my life, as I read the first four books at the age of ten. The Patronus Charm used against Dementors taught me that it’s possible to overcome depression by focusing on happy memories and hopes.The spell used to defeat Boggarts taught me that we can get over our fears by laughing at them. So I wasn’t afraid of sleeping alone in my room with the lights out after watching “horror movies” (I’ve always found them stupid) even as a child. Luna Lovegood’s character taught me that it’s cool to be a weird person that other people make fun of. Most importantly, Albus Dumbledore who is the wisest man I’ve ever known, taught me almost everything there is to know about life. To sum it up in a few words- “Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!” They made me realize that I’m not entirely alone. Most of my closest friends are imaginary. This is probably because I hardly ever have anything in common with the people I meet in real life. On the other hand, when I read about fictional characters, I can actually look into their souls and I identify with many of them. The best thing about such imaginary friends is that they never let you down. You can have them at your side at a moment’s notice if you’re bored or lonely or need a bit of advice. To end this piece with a quote by Dumbledore, “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”