There was a time when books were only available as printed copies; smartphones and tablets had yet to revolutionize the way we perceive and look at books. I belong to a generation that grew up in that era, luckily in a family that valued knowledge as much as any other quality needed for survival. Textbooks were not the only bestsellers around; giving and receiving books as birthday presents and wedding gifts was very much part of the norm.
As a Bengali, the Durga Puja festivities are quite special to us. And as Bengali kids, all of us siblings looked forward to the thick Puja special tomes from several publication houses. It was a month-long ritual, one that we really enjoyed.
Once I got one rupee, which, mind you, is equal to about five hundred bucks today, as a birthday gift. As soon as the guest left, I rushed to the nearest bookshop to find out what was on offer. As a ten-year-old, my notion of value-for-money buys was getting the maximum number of really thick books. Obviously, this strategy did not augur well for quality, though it did help me explore several genres of literature. Also, thanks to this approach, I could try some not-so-famous authors as well.
Reading books from a young age helped improve my grammar subconsciously. Actually, I was never really good at grammatical rules. In fact, I dreaded the grammar classes at school. However, thanks to my reading habits, I could look at a given sentence and correct it in no time. Even as TV, YouTube and Netflix have become more and more popular with the younger generation, books still remain my favorite source of entertainment and knowledge.
One of the reasons for this is that Internet was not even an option in my childhood. Moreover, a book could open up a whole new world of possibilities, sans the dangers of the online world. It was like climbing the Everest, without the fear of icy cold winds making you sick. That is what books do – they take you on an adventure of your own, at your own sweet pace.
With changing times and improved Internet connectivity, I have modified some of my reading habits as well. Open-source books and electronic copies have made it so much easier for common people like me to access a wide range of books from all across the globe. Moreover, I do not need to settle for the cheapest ones anymore! That said, regardless of whether a book is in the physical or digital format, my love affair with reading has stood the test of time through changing forms and media. I can still be engrossed in a book and not have any idea of how much time has flown by.
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