The love of books, the joy of reading..

We just got back from a whirlwind of a trip to London. It has been over a year since I went there and for me, it was all nostalgic.

On the London underground, I spent all my time showing Poohi all the stations – my old work place, husband’s old workplace. She has been on the tube millions of times , but I think this was the first time that she understood what was going on.Β  She was a little spooked when I told her that the tube would go under the ground. She was very worried that ‘We’ll never, ever get out again!’ πŸ™‚ It must have been one of the few times on the London tube when I did not read while travelling.

For my husband, tube travel was something he never enjoyed, but for me, traveling in London was the time that I loved – because it was completely ‘me time’. I used to carry books and of course, London Metro or the London Lite( free newspapers) used to be my staple reading on the way and back from work. These newspapers used to be free and would be handed out outside stations. I used to be one of those, who, even in an inch of space, would still manage to read.Β  I think I used to read a lot more in those days because of the uninterrupted time I used to get on the tube. There was a time when I used to travel around 3 hours one way and the only positive part was the reading time. But then I used to read in crowded Bangalore buses, and while waiting for the ITPL shuttle – I actually used to get funny looks then. One of the things that I loved about London as soon as I landed here was that everybody had a book/newspaper in their hands. I was no longer the odd one out.

Bones’ post on reading, touched a chord. Like her, I am not a book snob – I read anything and everything. I remember the first fairy tale that I got when I was 5 or 6 years old. I have not looked back since. Reading has been a passion and an addiction for me. I actually feel uneasy if I don’t have reading material around me.

As far back as I can recall, I used to be fascinated by books and stories. My mom and dad used to tell us stories at night, read to us when we were little. I think, it was all that storytelling that started me off on reading. I started on Reader’s Digests out of sheer boredom during my summer vacation. My maternal and paternal grandparents used to live in the same village but mom and I used to be at my maternal grandparents place, and we used to visit at my dad’s place in the evenings. Now I used to hate that, because my dad’s side had loads of cousins while at my mom’s side, I was the oldest and the only one for a while. So I used to yearn to go over to my dad’s place. In utter boredom, I flicked through my granddad’s collection of Reader’s Digest and started reading those little anecdotes at the end of each article. There was no looking back from there. I started reading the articles next, and before I knew it, I had read every issue that he had and his collection ranged from the ’60s. I then graduated on to P G Wodehouse and used to spend every waking moment reading!The magical, mystical world of books that I would disappear off to, oblivious to everything else around me! My mother used to say that nothing would break my concentration once I started reading.

Those days, I used to be fascinated by all the delicious food that Enid Blyton used to describe! Her eclairs sounded nothing like the Cadburys eclairs that we used to get. And I had imagined scones to be something, oh so yummy! Only to my intense disappointment when I finally did eat it! The eclairs, however, more than lived upto it’s reputation.Β  Sardines – I used to think was something yummy too! Until my granddad showed me what it was! I used to wish and wish and wish that my parents send me off to a boarding school! One of our friends threatens their daughter that if she gets naughty she would be sent to boarding school – and those were the days when I would yearn for that life! These days, of course, Indian authors seem to evoke the similar kind of sentiments. I read a book by Lavanya Sankaran, the other day. The Red Carpet, was a set of short stories set in Bangalore and it evoked a nostalgia, a wonderful feel of the city.

The funny thing is that the kind of stuff I used to conjure up in my mind while reading, might have been far, far away from what the author intended.Β  That I think is what I like about reading. The words would allow me toΒ  dream, imagine, in my own way.Β  That, I think, was the reason, why most of the movie adaptations of books leave me disappointed! When we read, I think , each of us conjures up our own versions, our own mental imageΒ  of the book. Reading for me, is my way of vicariously, enjoying different lifestyles, cuisines, cultures and countries.

I was also lucky in my teachers at school. Even my Maths and Physics teacher was an avid reader. I remember that he had recommended Alex Haley’s Roots and reading that was a revelation for me. I remember being blown away with Gone with the Wind. Waiting with bated breath for the sequel – Scarlet and then being so let down by it! For me, so many memories are linked with books. Books that were gifted to me, books that I got as prizes. Books that have served as milestones of my life. One of the things I always wanted was a library in my home. And I intend to ensure that that becomes a reality once we move to India for good.

These days, I try and pick up obscure books that I have never heard of. The libraries here are amazing in that respect. The huge collection they have, ensures that I can experiment different authors. Some time back I had picked up a book by a Srilankan author. I had never heard of her- but loved the book. I have learnt to rely on my instincts more these days. There was a time when I used to haunt the best sellers and pick them up. These days, I go for books that I have not heard of, and I have to say that I have been fairly lucky so far. I do get some good books. Over the years, the one thing that has not changed for me, is the passion for books and reading.

The only thing I regret is that I cannot read in Malayalam. My parents had a wonderful time when they came to London. They found lots of Malayalam books in the library there and they made the most of it. Maybe, one day, I will try and learn enough Malayalam to read a book..

The world of books opened a new horizon for me. My love of reading has contributed significantly to the way I think, the way I interact with people.. If I could gift anything really precious to my daughter, it would be the love of books.. The joy of reading…

49 thoughts on “The love of books, the joy of reading..

  1. i love love reading too…i travel by train everyday to work and totally enjoy spending that hour of reading…
    You too πŸ™‚ That was my favourite part of the day πŸ™‚

    nice post, Smitha

    Thanks Titaxy!

  2. haha
    first u go missing and when u do post, its such a long one…almost like u were dying to say all this..

    I am yet to read your posts, Masood! I have a huge back log. Yes, I have been dying to say all this πŸ™‚ Have been dying to post – but was not getting the time to sit down and post!

    btw, i still have to read…
    read whenever you can πŸ™‚
    n since no one has claimed 1st yet…i will do the honors…
    1st πŸ™‚

    Yes, whoever claims it is first πŸ™‚

  3. well its close to 1am and i was about to crash…so will read the post tomorrow morning.

    :)No probs. G’night. I have your posts to read too.

  4. SMithu, how could you do this? You didn’t even tell me. I wd hv come to meet u.
    TErribly angry now. Grrrrrrrrr…..

    So sorry, Pallu! Have emailed you! Wanted to meet you – but everything went crazy…

  5. Wonderful smitha… πŸ™‚ even i love reading now as you all know I Have that passion for last 6 months… I am really sad that i introduced to world of books so late… I should Have started earlier… I wish poohi too picks up the book soon and lost in that world πŸ™‚

    Yes, Kanagu – we know how much you love reading now πŸ™‚ Nothing is late πŸ™‚ Don’t they say – Better late than never πŸ™‚

  6. Smiths however dearly I love books, I have a problem with reading while inside anything that moves…be it car, truck or buses…sobs!! I get all nauseated even when I have to look at a map when we are lost on our long drives πŸ™„

    Oh yes – My mom says the same πŸ™‚ But I , thankfully, can read anywhere πŸ™‚

    “That, I think, was the reason, why most of the movie adaptations of books leave me disappointed! When we read, I think , each of us conjures up our own versions, our own mental image of the book”. so true…I always have that same feeling and rarely any movie surpasses that expectation in me :(.

    You too πŸ™‚ My husband is the opp – he is too lazy to read so he loves the movies while I always end up disappointed πŸ™‚

    I hated the “Scarlett” – the sequel to Gone with the Wind too. It was so different…the characters never had that charisma in them.

    I agree! It was a complete let down for me! Scarlet felt so weak!
    I was always an impulsive reader and picked up books just on instincts πŸ™‚

    I have now become an impulsive reader.. Earlier I used to go by the reviews and stuff.

    Nice post and every word shows how much you love books πŸ™‚

    πŸ™‚ Thank you, Saksh πŸ™‚

  7. I agree. With everything you saw πŸ™‚
    The joy of discovering new books without reading the reviews in every newspaper). Looking forward to travel time-just so that I could read and living in a dreamworld of Enid Blyton’s picnic food and boarding schools.
    (I sneak and read my daughter’s set now)

    You do? I am waiting for daughter to be old enough to read Enid Blyton πŸ™‚

    …And being so let down with Scarlet, also Oliver’s Story for that matter. I stay off sequels now. But I loved your post, brought back so many memories..

    Oh yes, it was so disappointing, wasn’t it? Most sequels do not match up to the original.

  8. you know i love reading, sometime i end up reading somethign and learning something also in my son’sbook – and he is 5

  9. Lovely lovely post Smitha!!

    And I loved the last line… that is my one biggest concern or anxiety! What if my kids do not love books in the same way I do 😦

  10. Though I love to read while on the move, it isn’t easy… at least not in Bangalore! One can easily get distracted by the traffic or the honking!!

    Yes, I just ordered the book ‘2 states’ by Chethan Bhagat for this weekend read πŸ™‚

  11. Awesome!!
    The joy of reading… πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚
    Me too not very particular but I do prefer adventure, mystery more to other genre! πŸ™‚

    I read on the bus and during lunch break!
    I always carry a book with me πŸ™‚

    good to know you had a great time in London! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  12. More n more book lovers . πŸ™‚ I love it . I regret not reading enough Hindi Literature , and sorely regret not knowing enough Sanskrit to read the scriptures . 😦 I am a huge Wodehouse fan as well . Have you seen the Jeeves and Wooster TV Series ? It is great !

  13. Reading for me, is my way of vicariously, enjoying different lifestyles, cuisines, cultures and countries.
    – I think this is what I enjoy in the blogs as well..

    This post about love and joy and passion for reading was a wonderful read Smitha.. I am very sure Poohi would pickup and enjoy reading in your company..

  14. Wow! I say, it’s a joy to read, n imagine all those characters n the scenes. I got addicted to hot chocolate reading Enid Blyton. How nice, many of us are having posts abt our reading habits these days….

    I know! I got addicted to a lot of things reading Enid Blyton πŸ™‚ I think my love of baked goods started from there πŸ™‚

    happy reading Smitha πŸ™‚

    Thank you and Welcome here πŸ™‚

  15. Very pleasant reading about your reading πŸ™‚ It reminds me of a time when as a child I read some book about winter and ice and a frozen lake and some crane in there and fox walking on ice to catch them. I still remember that image, I had never seen winter in my life and was fascinated by how cold it might have been.

    I know! I have so many memories like this!

    Reading is a pure bliss. I tend to read any piece of paper that comes my way.

    Me too πŸ™‚

  16. Awesome post on my favourite ‘Books’, Smitha! I think I wrote about books after I read one of your posts about the subject and now I feel like writing one more!

    Please do! I would love to read πŸ™‚

    Like you, I can read anything and everything. I have read ‘Gone with the Wind’ and used to dream about Rhett Butler and Scarlet O’Hara…I used to read in my office, most of the time! I was not a ‘mingling with people’ type, in those days. Now, reading habit has slowed down.

    Oh yes! I used to dream about the characters I read about as well πŸ™‚ I used to read in class. Hindi class for instance – which used to be very boring πŸ˜‰ Never at office, work was too hectic 😦 Reading habit for me has not slowed down yet – but I suspect it will when I come back to India..

    Enjoyed reading this post…keep writing more about books, Smitha! Poohi also will read these posts later on and add her experience with books!

  17. I have never been able to read seriously while traveling or while sitting in a park. There is simply too much to see and observe all around. I wonder how people manage to concentrate.

    For me – I can get lost in a book anywhere! My mom used to worry that somebody would steal my bags while I was travelling, because I would so lost in a book πŸ™‚

  18. Reading for me is like my second habit… I always carry a book with me even If i am going somewhere by Car because u never know when u need to wait somewhere πŸ™‚ and yes in blore u get strange looks if u do that

    I so identify with that πŸ™‚ I need to have a book with me at all times πŸ™‚

    smitha, when u coming to blore next?

    July-Aug next year, and then hopefully by mar-Apr of 2011 – back for good πŸ™‚ Can’t wait to be back!

  19. Hi5 Smithu .. I always carry a book with me too πŸ™‚ Well, might sound funny, but even when there is something on the gas stove which does nt need min-by-min attention, I wil always hv a book in hand. And all that time I used to travel to get to my office in Bangalore .. abt 2 hrs each side, books n music were my eternal companions πŸ™‚

    Oh me too! I do the same! I have a book with me at all times! If I water proof books, I would have one in the shower as well πŸ™‚ I read all the time πŸ™‚ Music – not so much for me 😦

    I am on the hunt for Sweet and simple kind for a long time nw Smithu 😦 No luck yet 😦
    I will get it for you when I come to blore – if you still have not got hold of it πŸ™‚

  20. I was not much into reading before but after meeting people like u who are avid readers slowly developed interest in reading.In the last few months read 6 books.I am loving it,sometimes i wonder from where i am taking out my time to read books.And i wish varunavi picks it up.She is showing interest in my books,she sits with me and trys to read.Got few books from india and she has started reading those story books.

    I am sure Varu will pick it up. Children do pick up from their parents.. I am sure that soon she will be reading more than you πŸ™‚

    I am getting to know more about the people and world after reading those books and also my vocabulary has increased a lot.

    It was the same for me, Sari.

    Loved ur post smitha and hugs to poohi πŸ™‚

    Thanks Sari! hugs and muahs to Pinkuda and Varu!

  21. my love affair with books also started with Enid Blyton’s adventures of a wishing chair !!!

    Oh yes! The wishing chair! Enid Blyton knew how to capture a child’s imagination, didn’t she?

    Tom Swayer by Mark Twain till date is my favourite character and I have never read a book like that !!! i USED to read a lot tooo !!!

    Oh yes! Tom Sawyer was wonderful too!

    but for now reading for me means sports section in news, and blogs and maybe sometimes a magazine if I am travelling. I want to read a few books but just not getting around thanks to the internet…

    but i m reading blogs aint i ??

    Oh yes! Reading blogs certainly count! It is as enriching, if not more πŸ™‚
    That post of Bones touched a chord inside me too… I even tweeted about it !! πŸ™‚

    I know how u felt… !!!

    and yes WElcome back !!!! πŸ™‚

    Thank you πŸ™‚ It is wonderful to be back!

  22. “The words would allow me to dream, imagine, in my own way”. That is what I love abut reading too :D. It gives us the gift of imagination. I wonder if Enid Blyton (R.I.P) knows how many little ones she has escorted into the wonderful word of reading! The new Reader’s Digests though, are not a patch one the old ones :(.

    ‘I wonder if Enid Blyton (R.I.P) knows how many little ones she has escorted into the wonderful word of reading! ‘ – I know!

    ‘The new Reader’s Digests though, are not a patch one the old ones :(.’ – I AGREE! I stopped reading them completely as I found them a waste of time towards mid/end ’90s..

  23. I used to read a lot during my school days…literaly wht ever i was getting…but since i joined my college i lost that habbit…i prefered pc\play ground\chit – chat with friends to reading…..Now a days i’m making effort to read 2-3 newspapers a day(not fully)….but busy shedule in work (+ stdudies) keep me away from books now a days..though occasionally take books from library whenever i go2 my native(used to read in tarin:) ) or if i get a long weekend…..
    between swet post πŸ™‚

    I know, it happens.. When I went to college, I found that I had read all the books in the lib there. Then I had to find a lib outside.. Yes, it must be difficult balancing work + studies! Not easy at all! Thank you, Anish!

  24. When I was in London, I did read a sign near the tube that said, “Beware of the newspaper lady. Her elbow could kill you” There was even a small picture of a lady holding a newspaper trying to read it inside the tube. The picture also showed two gentlemen being hit on their chest by her elbow…..Hmmmm !!!! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    Yeah – I must have been that newspaper lady πŸ˜‰

  25. Ooooh I love reading and for me too, its a way of “enjoying different lifestyles, cuisines, cultures and countries”. Not a book snob either. I don’t read in vehicles though coz my eyesight is bad as it is (apparently reading in moving vehicles worsens it). But with the baby now, its been ages since I read a book πŸ™‚

    You too πŸ™‚ I have heard that too – about reading in moving vehicles worsening the eyesight – but I can’t keep away πŸ™‚ After my daughter was born, my mom used to go crazy when I read. She used to go on and on abt how I should rest completely – to her consternation – I used to read while feeding daughter πŸ™‚

  26. Aha!!! I love such posts!!!

    It is always a pleasure to know everybody else’s book journey & more satisfying to see some similarity πŸ™‚

    I know! Every post about books that I read, makes me feel so wonderful πŸ™‚ There is something about books, isn’t there?

    Even I have read Readers Digest like Mad!!! Read & reread. The jokes used to be awesome!!! Now it isn’t the way it used to be!!!

    Oh yeah! The jokes were wonderful πŸ™‚ Towards the end of 90s, though Readers Digest lost it’s charm – it was not as interesting as it was earlier – or may be I grew up πŸ™‚

    I guess Enid Blyton was the staple diet of every childhood!!!
    Oh yes! I think all of us grew up on Enid Blytons. I wonder is my daughter’s generation will love books as much – what with TV and video games and stuff..

    I wish the reading culture improves in India. you are stared down if found reading!!! U can always find me standing & reading sometimes I even walk n read!!!! But ppl give such looks ki I can’t tell you!!!

    I agree! You know, apparently India has the largest number of sales of books in the world – but most of them are education oriented books – Apparently very few people buy books just to read.. I remember reading somewhere.

    Loved the post!!

  27. You know when people complained that Computers will replace books, and email will put an end to writing, long, descriptive letters, I always felt that those who loved to read will use even the computers for reading (and writing!) and who says we can’t write long emails?

    Absolutely! Isn’t reading blogs just as enriching, if not more πŸ™‚ People who love reading will continue to read. Though personally, I prefer reading books as books rather than on the comp πŸ™‚

    And we find a large number of bloggers love to read.
    I know!

    I keep some reading material in the car for all emergencies or opportunities, and a book, some paper and a pen in the handbag. It’s also fun to read with a pen in hand – to mark out what’s to be read again, or shared with family.

    Oh yes! I don’t mark books – I am a little crazy that way – but I love it when I get books from the lib with comments on it πŸ™‚

  28. “My love of reading has contributed significantly to the way I think, the way I interact with people..” …I second this…!!!! Unlike others, non fiction books are my weakness. I stronlgy feel non fiction books make a person grow in many areas…just my thought…!!!!

    I love both fiction and non fiction. And I think both contribute in their own way πŸ™‚ Welcome here!

  29. I am not a book snob – I read anything and everything……………..I relate to this absolutely, I also just love reading, anything and everything.

    πŸ™‚ It is so nice to know that there are so many people like me πŸ™‚

  30. I’m not a voracious reader,Smits. I cant read anything and everything that comes my know that. But that doesnt mean I dont love reading. I do. Its just I’m a bit selective about what I read and who I read.

    And I think it is good to be selective! Sometimes, I end up reading junk just because I need to read πŸ™‚ Not such a great thing πŸ™‚ But as I said – I am addicted to reading – I feel uneasy if I don’t have reading material with me πŸ™‚

    Having said that I can totally relate with you when you reading opens a new horizon. Yes I love it when a book transports me to a different world and makes me feel as though I’m a part of that world. I love it when reading broadens my thinking,makes me wiser.


    “If I could gift anything really precious to my daughter, it would be the love of books.. The joy of reading…” very well said,Smits. Precisely what I would gift my daughter too πŸ™‚

    Yes, knew that you would agree, Deeps πŸ™‚

  31. How well you have conveyed the joy of reading!

    “When we read, I think , each of us conjures up our own versions, our own mental image of the book”

    How true.. and nothing can beat what our imaginations conjure and hence the movies are no match!

    think I can relate with u.. started with RD and Enid Blytons and then since my Mother used to be a voracious reader herself had plenty of books to pick from.. nd like you I missed a lot Malayalam literature.. nd the famous “Kayar” came into the household a little late and I couldnt finish it..

  32. reading is a habit that kids dont really have today….
    I know.. I guess it is all the other exciting things they have – video games, fancy toys.. But I still believe that a child who gets hooked on books, will still love books – atleast that is what I hope πŸ™‚

    my grandfather (god bless his soul) used to regularly buy me little story books with pics in it to motivate my interest. then he introduced me to enid blyton and the likes. and of course he used to tell me countless stories himself. over time, i took over the habit and advanced it myself. i grew into an avid reader finally tho.

    Aww! That is lovely! My granddad had a huge part to play too.. When I was young, I was good at writing.. And my parents would send my essays back to my granddad and he would read, and come back with so many interesting comments and suggestions of books.. it was wonderful!

    of course ur mention of the London newspapers and the tube ride made me sigh of course πŸ™‚
    Of course! πŸ™‚ Any mention of London πŸ™‚ So when are you coming here ?

  33. β€˜We’ll never, ever get out again!’ -hehe every note on poohi is so cute πŸ™‚
    So much on reading books..i am overwhelmed..i hardly read 😦

    You don’t? Try a book – am sure you will get hooked πŸ™‚

  34. Pingback: Five Question Wednesday – Interview with Smitha |

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