Donald Duck did it. He got me hooked to books. In a desperate attempt to quieten my constant chatter, my mother found me a couple of tattered Donald Duck comics in her library and gave them to me at the age of two, to flip through and amuse myself. However, her plan failed horribly, because not only did I NOT stop my chatter (I would make up gibberish and substitute them for the dialogues I was too young to read), but I demanded to be taken to the library every second day, to find and 'read' more!
It's been twenty years since then, and the bibliophilia in me has spread like an epidemic through all possible genres, even giving me the eternal hope of writing a book someday. Recently, Facebook had the BBC Booklist Buzz that got me thinking about this post. (If you've been tagged in that note, how many books have YOU read?) While some part of me felt immensely inferior, thanks to the insane number of books I have NOT read, the other part of me felt like documenting the fun memories of those that I have read.
Through my entire childhood (uh...I would define childhood as 2 through 22), I've been gifted books as birthday presents. Of course, having a birthday in book-ridden March when exams are scorning intently at you would put people off at the prospect of more books, albeit for entertainment. However, I'd wait eagerly for my birthday presents, tearing off the wrapping of all gifts that resembled books first. Within the next few days, I'd stay in a blissful oblivion of the outside world, as I floated in and out of pages and pages of wonderland.
The first books I was gifted was a twin pack of Snow White and Cinderella by my neighbours. The beauty of fairy tales began with those two books...and has lasted ever since. (That can't be truer, since I spent last night on the couch, weeping happily over the ending of The Princess and The Frog - a really beautiful movie!) After pre-school years of 'I have 20 ladybird books how many you have' discussions, I finally moved on to greener pages.....the Enid Blyton series.
Enid Blyton is the rite of passage to childhood, if you ask me. Blyton and Dahl were such prolific writers, that they can be indisputably credited with the ability of sparking creativity in every starry eyed child. From getting scared while reading 'Witches', to getting ravenous while reading about the sumptuous feasts in Malory Towers, my holiday train rides were never complete without a brand new, crisp, Blyton book. When I finally ran out of bookspace (which I unfortunately did, thanks to the 3 generations of Reader's Digest my family has been collecting since forever), I gave up all my Blyton books to my cousin, so that she could be introduced to this magical world of the English Countryside. However, a couple of years later, when I went visiting there and saw all my books looking so out of place in her shelf, I secretly collected them all back and brought them home to re-read them all over again! (And uh, this wouldn't be too far long, so it shows the sort of childish insanity I develop around Blyton books!)
While Blyton introduced me to Girl Power, Carolyn Keene, Ann M Martin and Francine Pascal reinforced it. After years of constant reading, increased glasses power and countless taunts about reading in low light/moving car/upside down, I can officially claim to have read ALL of the Nancy Drew and Babysitter's Club books. (Uh, I somehow gave up after reading about fifty Sweet Valley books. I had discovered Judy Blume and Harry Potter by then.)
So after the overdose of girl power, I had the next obsession with books...and magic! Anyone my age would instantly connect with Harry Potter best, because we grew with him. When I was 11, so was Harry. Reading and re-reading each book over and over again made me sink deeper into the world of fantasy and charm. Watching the movies, and then dissing them for not having stood up to my creative vision of Harry's adventures made excellent pastime. Of course, randomly playing Harry Potter quizzes in class (and I'm talking about college here, mind you) was so entertaining.....as I tested the depths of my memory trying to figure out the actual meaning of Dumbledore's name.
Today, I have read so many books I'd NEVER be able to remember them all. The fact my very thick glasses (now replaced by very thin contact lens) testifies to. My tastes in books have probably changed a lot. I've been through the:
'Classic' Phase - When I would devour Austen after Austen....I still love reading her books..and using the quaint English expressions in speech and befuddling people!! Of course, Shakespeare and a few other Classic Authors fell into this category by compulsion, as they were prescribed in curriculum - but they got me hooked to discovering more of the series as well.
'Comic' Phase - Tinkle was my favorite-st train comic!! I would always secretly dream about writing to Uncle Pai and praising him to no end about the stories! While I've read dozens of Archie Comics and Tin Tins (which were never really comics, but a frozen motion picture in boxes), Tinkle has, and will always remain THE comic forever. :)
'Indian Author' Phase - When I discovered R.K.Narayan and he transported me to a world I would give my left hand to be a part of. Of course, Rohinton Mistry, Ruskin Bond, Vikram Seth, Shashi Deshpande and Anita Desai have all been an integral part of the books I love to read, but R.K.Narayan's entire collection will always hold a permanent membership in my mind library!
'Chick-lit' Phase - From Opal Mehta to The Zoya Factor, I've read them all. And someday, when my life gets as exciting as theirs, I will write one. Till then, I'll continue drawing inspiration from feisty chicks all over the world and devour their adventures.
'Romance Phase' - Yes, I read Mills and Boon, ok? There you go, I've admitted it on the world wide web. They are the BEST cure for my aerophobia, ok? At least, if my plane were to go down, I can imagine being rescued by the handsome pilot or co-passenger and live a happily ever after life, no?
'I should read this book because everyone else has read it Phase' - Uhh...Kite Runner, God of Small Things, Shantaram, Midnight's Children and all of Jhumpa Lahiri's works fall in this category. I know, I should've probably discovered these books myself. Having others forcing me to read the above titles have had me both cringing (whoever you are, who lauded GOST and made me read it, I will find you, hunt you down, and make you read my Mental Chronometry book. And test you on it.) and reading up more (like The Joy Luck Club - Amy Tan, inspired me to read Lahiri)
and finally, the 'Oh no, I have nothing new to read now, so I will just pick up the first Nancy Drew/Harry Potter/Famous Five and get right to it' Phase - The one phase I love slipping into every once in a while. :)
I've been bitten by the book bug, and I have a bibiliophilia. The one disorder I'd never like to be cured of!