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

Follow Shalin on Instagram if you’d like to know more about his love affair with books.

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