Friday, 20 July 2007

The written word...

Barring the Ladybirds and the picture books, I remember the very first book I read completely by myself. It was a heavily illustrated 'Peter Pan'. I read it on my father's lap, and I remember pausing over the unfamiliar name "John", and my father clapping me on the back when I pronounced it correctly. Till date, 'Peter Pan' has remained one of my favourite stories.
I have always loved books. Everytime I was gifted a book, or bought one, I would rush to the bed, curl up and start reading. And I was deaf to the outside world till I had finished. My family knew that it was unwise to disturb me, for I would get extremely cranky if brought back to earth. Nowadays I come across people who say they 'hate' books, that they have never read just for the sheer pleasure of reading. Apparently it is 'uncool' to like reading. Is it really? What a very sad situation. I can't imagine a life without books. And anyway, who CARES if reading is uncool? Those who think it is, are certainly missing something.
Books have a charm of their own, don't they? They have this magical gift of transporting you somewhere else. Read 'Malory Towers', and you're actually in one of the dormitories, attending a midnight feast with Darrell, Sally, Alicia and the rest. Read 'Curtain: Poirot's Last Case', and you're sitting with the master detective himself, watching him rack 'the little grey cells'. Flip through the pages of 'Cinderella', and you'll find yourself wishing it were you instead of her, riding off into the sunset with Prince Charming.
Enid Blyton has probably been one of my biggest influences. I fancied myself a British girl living in the 1930s or so, instead of an Indian one living in the 1990s. My brother still laughs at me- and reminds me of that, much to my embarrassment. I lived on a diet of boarding school stories, descriptions of yummy meals (scones formed an integral part!), and talked with a distinct British accent and said stuff like "Dear me!" All that aside, Enid Blyton was unbeatable. Show me a children's book that's better than any of hers, and I'll swallow an entire glass of lassi. (I say that because I can't stand the stuff). Amelia Jane, the Faraway Tree, the naughtiest girl, St. Clare's, the Famous Five, the Five Find Outers- what would any of us have done without her books to read? (I remember having a crush on Julian, of the Famous Five. What a hottie!)
Agatha Christie, again, has been a huge favourite. I have yet to read a crime novel that's better than any of hers. Even now, if I read 'And Then There Were None' at night, I feel chills running down my spine. Her endings are so completely unpredictable, they leave you feeling like a fool and wishing you had seen it before. And when she's done explaining, it sounds so ridiculously simple that you wonder how you hadn't seen it before!
Asterix and Obelix, of course, I love too. Who can resist the subtle humour? Poor Cacophonix, he's NEVER allowed to sing! I've read all the Tintin comics too. I used to have (probably still do) a big crush on Captain Haddock! No one can quite match his vocabulary for abuses!
"The Catcher In The Rye" - another huge favourite. A book like no other. You can't help but identify with it.
I quite liked "Daddy Long Legs" too. It's a completely unique story. Something that you can read over and over again and never get bored of.
And I suppose I should mention Harry Potter too, in view of all this Pottermania. I like the books, though I don't go completely nuts over them. They're well written, yes, and J K Rowling has worked out a pretty good formula. The stories are gripping, you find yourself drawn into the characters, but I wouldn't go so far as to queue up ouside a bookstore all night long or anything!
And yes, there has been the usual junk that I've read. Stuff that everyone has read. Archie, Sweet Valley, and the trash that is called Goosebumps. Archie comics are nice, though. They make for pleasant reading on cold winter nights. I've read Sidney Sheldon's works too. 'Tell Me Your Dreams' was rather nice.
I've never liked classics much, neither do I like Georgette Heyer's books. My friends have repeatedly recommended them to me, though. I like Jeffrey Archer's stuff, though I prefer his short stories. I find his novels a tad boring.
How can I forget to mention Adrian Mole's Diary, by Sue Townsend? It's definitely one of the most hilarious books I've come across. The writing is so endearingly REAL, somehow. And the subtle satire on life and its many facets is hard to miss. If you haven't read it, do. You won't be sorry.
Lewis Carroll- who can forget him? 'Alice in Wonderland' and 'Through the Looking Glass' are works of art in themselves. And I must mention this story I had really liked by Oscar Wilde, called 'The Nightingale'. Truly wonderful.
Paulo Coelho's writing is really good too. Very different. And with a lot of meaning. Sometimes, he tends to get a little pretentious. But on the whole, good reading. 'Veronika Decides to Die' and Eleven Minutes' being two of my favourites.
And I've talked about just a minor percentage.
Books. Aaah. What comfort. Gimme a good book, some cookies, pleasant weather and a bed. Now THAT'S bliss!


Soumya said...

nice one...though i really really think wind in the willows deserves a mention...

Shreya said...

wonderfully written.there is such a charm in books,specially the treasured ones....and the books you have mentioned are quite my favourites too.great post!

Dream Baron said...

As such i have read very few works of pulp fiction...with few exceptions...i loved "Midnight's children" and i am a bit surprised that "God of small things" and Amitava Ghosh found no mention..."Hungry Tide" is a different work all together...One thing about books...dont you feel old or new they have an invigorating aroma??? i always smell every book i get hold of :]

Opaline said...

EB really isnt that good. I've read better kidlit and better school stories. Joan Aiken, E Nesbit, Mary Norton, The Chalet School series, Angela Brazil. I used to read like crazy when I was little and I still read the same books over and over again and Enid Blyton is unbearable really whereas others likesay the people I've mentioned here are timeless. I'll lend you stuff if you havent read these guys already and want to. And then some lassi too.

little boxes said...

well i have had the same kinda childhood...and enid blyton was a name i chanted in sleep probably!
and about first book was "jack and the beanstalk"...peter pan came second!

Lucid Darkness said...



You're the first person I've met apart from my mum and myself who has read and liked it!!!

Um, I don't find any mention of Ayn Rand though. I'd recomment 'The Fountainhead'. :)

Lucid Darkness said...

Typos are evil. *glares at them*

Books are heaven. *smiles lovingly at them*

Astraeus said...

Apparently it is 'uncool' to like reading

i completely reiterate that statement...

Enid Blyton was what i grew up with part of my life.. even now when i chance upon an Enid blyton i cant stop reading it (thanks to my sister in class6 i still get to read it)

How i dreamt of being able to meet Joe and gang of faraway tree or joining Buster in one of his quests..
Naughty girl being another favourite and the hsotel life of Britain (sad she dint ahve ne hostel life books on boys)

Oh and i have read adrian mole series too... was introduced by mah librarian who wanted me to test the book before she finally floated it in the library!!!

I dont care what others say... Enid blyton is the best

Priyanka Kumar said...

brinda, i love you for the enid blyton rambling. so addictive, i swear i picked up my habit of not listening to people while reading her.

cookies, check. but pleasant weather? i could read anywhere, but i think curling up with a book on a rainy evening beats all else. and yes, the book-lovers community has always been, and always will be, a small but maniacal minority. so why bother? uncool be damned.

speedpost said...

reminds me of the nights I spent trying to evade the clutches of my mom and my vicious maid so much so that I was forced to read under torchlight under a blanket! I repeated that stunt with the seventh harry potter book...ohh and mention Naguib Mahfouz's "Adrift on the Nile".classic.

the soliloquist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rajarshi said...

people who read/have read malory towers think lacrosse is the coolest sport in the whole world!

the soliloquist said...