Being an introvert, I didn’t have many friends in school. I was a shy kid, always sitting aloof, while others nonchalantly played and frolicked. However, I eventually found my best friend in the library of the very school that had made my reserved nature all the more noticeable. That best friend, however, was not a fellow student – it wasn’t even a person! I had found a worthwhile companion in books, or it were rather books that had found me.

We had recreational and library periods once every week. While all the students would eagerly look forward to the former, I would wait for those precious thirty minutes in the library. I fondly recall the times when I would lead the queue to the library located on the fourth floor of our school building and would patiently (okay, not quite) wait for my roll number to be called out.

Books entranced me. My hands would literally itch to grab a storybook. Enid Blyton fascinated me to no end. I was particularly drawn to her series such as The Famous Five and The Secret Seven.

As summer vacations drew closer, all my classmates felt relieved at the thought of getting up late and going to cool places. On the other hand, I would, at most, pay a visit to my grandparents or sit back at home, awaiting the exam results. Now, I’d like to clarify that I was not the brains of my class. My anticipation was more about having dad accompany me to school to fetch my report card and, no surprises for guessing, to get the new textbooks for the upcoming academic year. As far as I can remember, that used to be the happiest day of the year for me. As soon as we reached home and dad deposited the heavy bundle of books on the table, I would grab my English, Hindi and Marathi textbooks and run upstairs. Positioning the table fan in my room at a comfortable angle, I would lie down on the bed and read one lesson after another. I got to read countless exhilarating stories such as Akbar Birbal, Tenali Raman and Aesop’s Fables. I even saved my pocket money once to treat myself to the complete compilation of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Growing up, I found another friend in Harry Potter. I have not only read and re-read each and every book of J.K. Rowling’s renowned series, but have also binge-watched their movie versions countless times. I have dreamed of Hagrid pounding at my door, with a letter in his hand, to take me to Hogwarts. I was upset the whole day when I learned that JKR was bringing the curtain down on the series.

However, it didn’t take me too long to recover from that heartbreak. After all, I had wholeheartedly embraced and accepted my newfound penchant for the young-adult genre. I could comfortably relate to the protagonist and, to varying extents, all the other characters.

Books comfort me. They take me places without me having to move a finger. An ideal day for me is one that I spend sitting on a cozy chair in a quite corner, with a book in my hand.

I’d like to quote an anecdote to underline and illustrate the importance of books in my everyday life. Once my best friend – the only animate one that I had – asked me who my other friends were, to which I replied that he already knew most, if not all, of them. Intrigued, he inquired about their names. My reply gave him the impression, which was fairly evident from his expression, that I had completely lost it. You wouldn’t blame him though, not after considering the fact that I had answered Katniss Everdeen, Bilbo Baggins, Frodo Baggins, Will Herondale, James Carstairs, Julian Blackthorn, and Clary Fray.

Anagha Aglawe's impressive collection of Cassandra Clare books

Reading is not a one-way thing; it is more like a conversation. Fiction reveals truth that the reality obscures. It is customary for me to fall asleep after reading a page or two of a novel. It has got absolutely nothing to do with being bored or something; it’s a habit that I am rather quite proud of. I would like to sum my story up with a quote from The Clockwork Angel, which is a novel very close to my heart:

“One must always be careful of books,” said Tessa, “and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us. Only the very weak-minded refuse to be influenced by literature and poetry.”

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