The first book I ever read was Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne, in sixth standard. It was more out of compulsion than choice – it was a part of the curriculum! Actually, it was the author, who was a part of CBSE syllabus, and not the story in itself, so reluctantly, I had to pick up the book from library and give it a go. It was around 200 pages and it took me two weeks to get around the book. Well, needless to say, neither was I that interested nor did I find the book gripping enough to speed past through it. My position as a diehard non-reader further reinforced my belief that books just weren’t my cup of tea. For the next four years, I did not pick up a single book that wasn’t prescribed by the almighty CBSE.

After keeping a safe distance from books for a good four years, I became friends with a bookworm, one whose whole purpose was to motivate everyone to read. Eventually, I had to give in to her unyielding insistence and asked her to lend me a book to read – any book – just to make sure that I wasn’t on her propaganda list anymore. To her delight (and my absolute horror), she gave me All American Girl by Meg Cabot. I didn’t read the book for several days; it just kept occupying some space on my study table, almost to a point where I completely forgot about it. In the end, her constant reminders and general inquisitiveness with regards to my opinion of the book reminded me of the work I had in hand. My friend found out within seconds that I hadn’t read a single word. I had never felt half as guilty as I felt at that moment. My mind was made up and the agenda for the night was sorted – I was going to read. My four-year streak was about to end.

Aakanksha Parmar from Coimbatore

I ended up reading the whole book in a single night! Perhaps it was the way the protagonist in the book wore an all-black wardrobe that resonated with me, or the light, fun tone used throughout the novel. The book took me on an unprecedented journey, so much so that I felt addicted to its fast-paced narrative. And that was just the beginning! Books kept following and roping me in, and my friend was now more of my book dealer. At last – at long, long last – after reading The Princess Diaries, the Harry Potter series, Chetan BhagatPaul Coelho, Dan Brown, I had finally became a bookaholic. Things became all the more serious when Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice came calling and I fell deeper into the enjoyable abyss of the fascinating world of books.

Aakanksha Parmar

I believe that we all look for a temporary refuge from our hectic lives; a moment where our senses can go far away from the din of our apprehensions. Books give us that leeway. One need not be a hardcore reader, nor does one need a fine understanding of the classics. For me, books are nothing but an opportunity to look into the experiences and observations penned down by an author. While I cannot pinpoint why Meg Cabot fascinates me more than Jules Vernes, I guess it is all about how you relate to the plot or the ideas put forward by a given author. So, pick up a book that you have been shying away from and give it another go – it might change your perspective altogether! Like I said before, it does not have to be love at first sight. It wasn’t in my case.

That was quite heartfelt, Aakanksha! Thank you so much for taking the time to share it with us.

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