Unlike many others, I was never a person who would go crazy after books. I used to be the boy who would spend most of his time glued to the TV set or be outside, playing games. As a proud extrovert, I never saw what it was that kept the introverts inside. What pleasure did they get? Did they not understand how much fun they could be having? I did not understand how a person could remain inside, just to read pictureless books.
Then, on one of my birthdays, my parents got me five colorful books with equally colorful covers – the Harry Potter series. However, looks can be deceptive, and I got a first-hand experience of this that day – the books were all black and white on the inside, with no images to write home about. Intimidated, I decided that the books were probably best-suited as a showpiece on my shelf. And so they remained for nearly two years, removed only for the occasional dusting.
Two monsoons later, a vicious thunderstorm had me trapped inside. With the power gone and nothing else to do, I walked desperately around the house looking for a way to kill time. That is when I stumbled upon those books on my shelf. Tentative at first, I randomly picked one up and looked at its cover. Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, it read. I read the description given at the back of the book, and the fantasy world began to intrigue me. I decided to give it a shot. It would do no harm to read one page, I thought. Looking back, that is how I went about it – just one page at a time, each page setting me free, both from my boredom and my misconceived notion about reading.
The more I read, the more it dawned on me that the book did not need any images or colors. It was all there, right in front of my eyes. I could picture the breathtaking castles and mammoth giants, and not a frame was missing. It all felt so much more vivid than any movie I had ever seen. I felt liberated, and frankly, to say that time flew by would be an understatement.
Within a week, I was done reading the book, and then the next. It took me just a couple of months to complete the entire series. I felt so guilty for not having read them earlier. But, as they say, better late than never.
That was when I actively started hunting for books. I started frequenting bookstores as my reading pace increased considerably. Every author took me on a trip to an altogether new world. I cried along when hearts broke and smiled when things got better against all expectations. I felt tense when the characters were anxious and relieved when everything fell into place.
Books took me through a myriad of emotions, emotions that I probably never would have experienced otherwise. And most importantly, they gave me a sneak peek into the minds of many an individual and character, whose personality and mindset taught me a thing or two about how humans think and react. It gave me valuable insights into why people do certain things and how our personality determines what we expect from others. This helped me get along with individuals with varying personalities, making me a better friend and helping me be there for whoever needed me.
I feel books are one of the purest ways to convey an abundance of emotions. In fact, taking someone on a journey that makes them empathize with a character’s pain, pleasure and experiences is something only books can do. I would go so far as to say that the satisfaction I get from reading is beyond what I could explain in a single article. Even so, I am sure any reader would understand what I am trying to convey here.
I am someone who does not like to be wrong, but I am really glad that I was wrong about books. And you know why? Because in the end, even beyond all the joy reading brings to me, it has made me who I am today – a better person.
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