For The Love Of Books

My first serious reading happened when I randomly picked a book titled The Stars Shine Down’ by Sidney Sheldon. Before that I was only into reading magazines. It was the book that introduced me to the magnetic world of reading and helped me recognize my interest in fiction. I had never known such joy before. The book made wonderful reading. It was intriguing. It was full of suspense, passion, revenge, and retribution.  I had only read a few pages but was already falling in love with the plot and its author.
 Not only did I find the book fascinating, I felt it was helping me form strong opinions about issues that meant nothing to me earlier. I found the new wisdom was making me feel so good about myself. Lara Cameron, the lead character, became my inspiration. She taught me to be willing to take responsibility for my life, and to never give up in the face of adversities no matter what. I then went on purchasing all the books by the same author and savored the exquisite moments, reading them all. Since then I have explored other writers too.  James Patterson, Martina Cole, Peter James to name a few.
I read  books with a keen enthusiasm and literally found myself addicted to them. It was like a journey around the world that filled me with astonished wonder. I traveled to different places from Scotland to Chicago to New York, London and Rome. Suddenly, watching television felt so secondary and futile. Gradually, I lost interest in my favourite TV shows. All I ever did in my leisure hours was simply tuck myself under the blanket and read.
 Gradually, purchasing books became a sensational hobby. It was like a love affair! Whenever I went shopping, I made sure to check some books and purchase at least two or three titles at a time. I felt so incredibly happy standing at some book stall, reading the caption, and selecting the books I wanted to buy and read. It felt like the most important thing in the world. Books filled me with exuberant curiosity.
Soon my bookshelf was stuffed. But I wanted more books. It was like an obsession. The sight of my crammed bookshelf pleased me. It made me feel so proud. But with that pride, I also became possessive. If I lent books to my friends, I told them not to wrinkle the pages. I would tell them to use book marks and return my treasure on time without damaging its appearance.
Once my university fellow borrowed a book from me. The same book The Stars Shine Down and I waited desperately to get it back. In fact, I found my anger building when she didn’t return me the book even after a month. Finally, when she did return it, I was overcome by rage. My book looked like somebody had tossed it into a trash can. The pages had deep creases, the cover almost torn. I went totally ballistic!
The second time it was my colleague who borrowed my book and she kept it with her for months and even though I kept asking her for it, she never bothered to pay heed. Once again I lost my cool and gave her my piece of mind.  Thank God, I got my book back. After that day, I decided I would never lend my books to anyone except for my close friends who share the same feelings for books as I do.
Books gave me something to look forward to everyday. The world inside them was exotic and I wanted to explore it. I fell in love with different characters.  Some became my best friends while others were my heroes I drew strength from. If someone I adored died, I shed silent tears and their memory nagged me for days. Books became my safe haven and reality was incapable of hurting me anymore.
Books shaped and revolutionized my thoughts, and answered questions that never existed before.  I discovered a whole new person in me. My ideas and perceptions transformed and reorganized. I evolved and developed into somebody who could think independently. It was like a learning experience. Gradually, small talk with my friends and family members felt so trivial.. Every time, we got together, I wanted to either discuss books or talk about something crucial, something that mattered to me like freedom, human behaviour, religion, taking the road less traveled etc. In fact, it was through my reading habit I was able to identify issues that mattered to me.
Today I’m delighted to say that I have more books than friends. My best friend also shares a profound attachment with books. We read the same genre and love to discuss the incidents and episodes that occur in those books. I’m glad books enhanced my writing. When I was in Grade 9, I aspired to write poems. I sometimes envied my class partner because she wrote superb poems but I couldn’t. Now I can say it with elation and pride that I write my own poems. Books changed my life by adding meaning and substance to my thoughts.
                                                                Written by Shumila Malik

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