It is said that a book is not a set of words meant to be read, but rather a whole journey to be experienced and relived time and again. That has been the case with me.

I close my eyes, and I’m transported back in time, 15 years ago. It was my third birthday. My parents had gifted me some mysterious rectangular thing wrapped in a fancy cover. Inquisitive that I was, I tore open the cover and found that my gift was a Hello, Poldy! storybook. It was my first ever book! Back then, I thought of it as just another toy containing some interesting pictures. That’s all.

However, every night, I used to sit beside my mother and listen to her with deep interest as she read out stories from that book for me. I got absorbed in that beautiful world. It was quite a surreal experience and I longed to have more and more of it. As I grew older, I gradually learned to read. That is when my interest started to divert from the pictures in the books to the content therein. I moved on from Hello, Poldy! to the epic Enid Blyton collections of The Famous Five and The Secret Seven.

These books literally defined my primary school years. There wasn’t a single day when I did not pick up one of those books to read. And when I picked up one, it meant that I would read it for hours and hours, without caring for the time. I’d fall short of fingers if I were to try and recount the number of times I have actually fallen asleep with a book in my hands.

How Shalin from Mumbai developed a taste for reading

I found books extremely intriguing. I was always keen to know what would happen next in a story. My unquenchable thirst for books helped me develop another interest; I began reading the newspaper. They say every successful man is well-read. I began taking interest in news articles and developed a habit of going through all the headlines (and the inner content of some of them). In this way, both fiction and non-fiction became my area of interest. Active reading helped me a great deal all through my school life. Compositions and essays, which were dreaded by most students, were never a problem for me. I excelled in vocabulary and creative writing, areas that weren’t accorded much importance by most teachers. Also, extensive reading helped me speak fluently, thanks to which I won quite a few debate competitions. As the years passed, I graduated from fiction to biographies and autobiographies such as Andre Agassi’s Open and Sachin Tendulkar’s Playing It My Way. Basically, books and reading had given me quite a few reasons to smile.

Books still hold that charm that can make me oblivious to my surroundings whenever I’m reading one. They take me to a magical world where I tend to forget all my troubles and let go of all my worries and anxieties. I can say that whenever I read a book, I feel detached from the materialistic world, for my connection with them is a spiritual and philosophical one. Reading is obviously my getaway from all the mess going on in life. Thus, I can happily say that books have definitely changed my life for the better and I hope that reading will continue to enlighten me till my last breath.

Books are life

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