I had no idea that our recent move to a big city would turn out to be such a pivotal moment in my life. To put things into perspective, I had been brought up in a quaint town, where people were warm and friendly. However, the new and unfeeling city environment made me feel lost and desolate. The kids were mean and the people selfish. My parents had too much on their plate ever since we had shifted, and my little brother was, well, too little. Needless to say, I felt alone.

I picked up my first non-curriculum book at the age of ten. It was Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyers and Huckleberry Finn. Honestly speaking, I did not understand the book at all. I thought to myself that I was probably not at that level yet. Hesitatingly, I decided to give an Enid Blyton book a try, and from then on, there was no looking back. I read and read, until had finished all of Enid Blyton’s books in our junior library. I could hardly wait to be able to access the senior library.

While my peers drooled over Famous Five and Agatha Christie, I found myself drawn to Harry Potter. The series weaved an intriguing, magical world that gave me the much-needed reason to step out of my humdrum existence. I used to borrow library cards from my friends to get more than one book issued, which was the weekly permissible limit for every cardholder. Sometimes, other pressing matters in my life got in the way of my fascination for reading. Even so, such minor hiccups only served to increase my love for and dependence on books. From Harry Potter to Jeffrey Archer to Sidney Sheldon to Dan Brown and many, many others, I had soon become the kid in the class who would even read during the lunch break.

Surbhi became conversant with quite a few issues due to her reading habits

Every once in a while, I would have to put up with the question, “Just how do you mange to read all these books? I just can’t get the hang of it.” I would simply smile and respond, “It’s all right. Not everybody takes to reading the way I did.” This was not a statement of vanity, but something I had learned over time, when I would suggest – even force – my friends to read select novels. Their often unenthusiastic replies made me realize that reading was perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea. I also wondered how I, of all people, had come to develop this habit.

You see, when I am in the middle of an engrossing read, a picture immediately takes shape in my head. It is as though books project a full-fledged movie on the screen of my mind, with such detail that a cinematographic interpretation can never quite match up to it.

As time passed, my routine was hijacked by much bigger and more important considerations. As a result, reading took a backseat. However, it was not as if my reading exploits eventually came to nothing. I don’t want to sound too pretentious here, but my friends often look up to me as someone who is abreast of quite a few topics. I am usually asked,  “How do you happen to know so much about almost everything?” Feeling awkward, I just wave and reply, “Oh, I don’t know. I think I read it somewhere.” Moreover, I also happen to get the occasional compliment for my English, which most Indians are kind of obsessed with.

I turned to books when I was going through the biggest change in my life. Looking back, I am so glad I made that choice. As geeky as it may sound, I adore books and have a unique connection with them. They almost seem like a friend that is there for you whenever you need them.


For those who would like to know more about Surbhi and the types of books she likes to read, do take a moment to check out her Instagram handle here.

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