Sometimes the worst of our fears brings out the best in us.

Hi, this is Aryan Samal, and today I’ll be sharing my experience with books. Well, books had a rather serendipitous entry into my life. My fear of history also played a key role there. Yes, you read that right. You see, as a child, I always found dates and history pretty irrelevant and boring. In my defense, I was just obeying Einstein’s advice:

Never memorize something that you can look up.

However, our education system didn’t seem to concur with this nugget of wisdom. Being a cog in the wheel of this system, I had no choice but to play by its rules.

Fortunately, I had some fantastic teachers. Understanding my struggles with the subject, one of my teachers came forward to help me out. He showed me a way out by quoting the Nobel laureate, Hermann Hesse:

Without words, without writing and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity.

He suggested me to read novels so I could gain interest in reading. The ultimate goal was to make both reading and learning history easier for me. While this newly inculcated reading habit couldn’t eliminate or even diminish my dislike for history, it definitely made me a more enlightened student.

The first book I came across was Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. Well, there has been no looking back from there. The most intriguing aspect of Hosseini’s writing was his vivid description of Afghanistan’s critical situation post Taliban’s takeover of the country. It was gut-wrenching to read about individuals struggling with their personal predicaments in a crumbling society.

Later, I stumbled upon J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. Now, I had been a Potterhead since forever. In fact, I basically grew up with them. That said, reading the series actually gave an all new dimension to my understanding of that magical world. Suddenly, a 3-hour movie seemed both humanely and technically impossible. The creators invariably miss out on some details during the visual reproduction of a story. On the other hand, while reading a book, the reader himself becomes the creator. Independent reading made me think critically; it improved both my imagination and concentration. From being someone who sought reasons to avoid studying history to finishing bulky novels in a jiffy, I had undergone a complete transformation in a matter of months.

I feel reading lets us into worlds where our imagination and visualization reigns supreme. I’d like to sum up my story with a Stephen King quote:

Books are a uniquely portable magic.


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