Thursday, February 4, 2010


Even as a kid, I was crazy about books. Not boring textbooks made of bad quality paper, mind you, but colourful books with glossy pages full of unheard-of stories, and characters that you adored, hated or simply loved laughing at! Maybe it was the smell of books that I loved best, or the fun in narrating stories to other kids. Or maybe, sweet stories with nice people and happy endings always made me happy. I was partial towards both Amar Chitra Katha and Archie, loved Suppandi and Jughead equally (and was thrilled when nicknamed Shikari Shambu! :)). My adoration of Uncle Pai and Enid Blyton grew, as did my collection of fairytales and kiddo books, with my fortnightly trips to the bookstore. That was when I started noticing those big fat books with shiny titles and hundreds of pages. Even Tinkle’s double digest - a real treat gifted or bought only on rare occasions - looked tiny beside them. Imagine my surprise when Dad told me they were all just single stories! “How long and fascinating each must be”, I thought. I so wanted to read and own them. “Someday I’ll have a library of my own. Bigger than the one at school, with all the best books in the world!”, I decided.

I had a simple plan: Marry rich prince, buy tons of books. No wonder my favourite fairytale hero was The Beast himself, right since I first watched Disney’s version of Beauty and the Beast. In the scene where he gifts Belle this gigantic library with spiral staircases reaching towering racks full of books, I instantly fell in love with The Beast, and no Prince Charming has ever come so close again. I mean, how can someone who just kisses the girl to wake her out of a dead slumber, or finds her with the help of a stupid designer glass sandal, even compare to The Beast? The sweetness, the chivalry, the silent adoration... (sigh!) he was a real gentleman... oops! beast. So anyway, that was my plan; until I grew up some more and thought of a better one: To build my library myself, one book at a time.

I started with Dad’s old books, eagerly waiting for the annual house cleaning frenzy when my Mom and Aunt would pack huge boxes full of books to be “safely stored away” in the attic. Sorting through all those “serious” books on science/religion/philosophy (I was in 7th standard, and in my defense, I had my own science textbook :P), I’d strike gold once in a while and find fiction/humour. Some turned out to be duds, but most of them were amazing books that I’m glad to have read.

So I hogged every genre I came across (good for me that Dad never really liked self-help books), (re)discovered authors, and grew more obsessed with my mini-library... then I started borrowing and lending, reading and loving more books, and meeting more people who shared this beautiful obsession. The problem? Almost all the books I borrowed were returned, and the ones I lent are not back yet - and I don’t know if they’ll ever be. That leaves me where I was years ago. Materially, at least. Sure, I ended up reading, liking and being influenced by a lot of books. Sure, I laughed and felt and learnt all along. And yes, I now love reading more than ever. But what about my precious books that introduced me to the joy of reading? I really miss them today, and not just because I crave a library of my own. I can only hope they’re still in circulation - being read and loved by other book lovers - and not left forgotten in some corner, to gather the dust of time...

Current mood: Wistful/Nostalgic
Currently reading: The Zahir, a book about obsession by Paulo Coelho


  1. As children, we all would have read those fables and fantasies, dreamt of those princes and princesses, witches and wizards that we came across... hoping that one day we would be one among them…

    As grownups, with age and maturity, while many have lost the ability to stand in awe of those most wonderous tales, am glad you still have those memories ingrained inside you..

    You may not have all those books with you physically, but u sure have the memories ..
    As someone I know famously said, presence is more important than the way you sense it.. ;)

  2. Now I can't disagree with such an insightful saying, can I? :)

    It's always good to have nice memories, but they also cause sudden pangs of longing. Especially on occasions like this when I just can't step outside because of this stupid snowstorm, and a good book is missed more than ever.

    It just makes me a little sad to think I don't even know where they are. Oh! Why can't the universe conspire to bring them back to me :(

  3. the pangs of longing eases when you talk it out.. go disturb someone :P
    or better, you could do with some coursework or assignments..they do come in handy at times like these, u know :P

  4. Love the bit about the 'Beast'.

    The only way to keep your books and maybe a few extra (borrowed and never returned) is to be a not-so-nice-person once in a while.
    And I thought you had given up on Coelho after 'Brida'.

    Recommendations : Try some Camus if you haven't already.
    Oh, are you on any of these book sites? shelfari / goodreads ?

  5. @thymadman: coursework? wotz dat? ;) and haven’t I disturbed u enough, already? :P

    @hydeous: yes! u insisted (albeit very nicely) that i return The Godfather so i wouldn't nick it. you, you!
    Coelho made his reentry and re-exit :P he will have to wait for his next turn. Camus sounds high-brow and depressing; will give A Happy Death a shot (did i just say that?). what's shelfari/goodreads, btw?