“Now that you folks are in class V, you’ll be taken to the seniors’ library from this year,” announced our teacher as she made us all queue height-wise. Being the little person that I was (and that, FYI, I still am), I stood at the front of the line. I was both eager and excited. It felt like we were about to walk into an altogether different world. Having switched our pencils and erasers with pens and whiteners, that year had felt nothing less than a portal to another world – the real world. The seniors’ library was just another one of those overwhelming changes.

Now, to say that I was floored would be an understatement. Before me was a mammoth hall. Shelf after shelf stood in perfectly parallel lines at both the ends, while in the middle were rectangular wooden tables and colored plastic chairs. I was not much of a reader before, but this place had me in some sort of a trance. We were told to help ourselves to any book from the sections for grades five to eight. I had never been so confused in my life, though it was definitely a good headache to have!

The myriad choices, intriguing titles, colorful front covers (anybody who says they don’t judge a book by its cover is a liar, there I said it!), and the unpronounceable author names made it impossible to choose. That was until I stood in front of this hardcover book. Its spine read Little Women L. M. Alcott. Reaching out for it, I was welcomed by the four sisters sitting around a fireplace on its cover. No other title could have done more justice to that day. In fact, it has remained, to this day, the best story I have ever read. It was simply amazing being part of the March family for the next few days – a truly devastating yet beautiful experience.

Once I entered this realm, I remained there. It was followed by a mania for Enid Blyton’s The Secret Seven, The Famous Five, and Malory Towers. I made short work of them all. Then came Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys, and I did not think I could be more amazed. But then J.K. Rowling held my hand as she took me all the way to Hogwarts! Still hoping my letter would arrive one day, I fell in love with the young-adult genre. The Hunger Games, the Divergent Series and Maze Runner introduced me to dystopia and its charm. While John Green kept me up crying all night, Paulo Coelho taught me just how important dreams were. I was a bit late in meeting Percy and all his demigod buddies, but better late than never.

Having read a wide assortment of books, Manjari Gupta is no stranger to the emotions a good book can evoke

Books, particularly fiction, have been my greatest teachers and friends. They have taken me on my best trips, teaching me the most profound life lessons. They have made me laugh and smile like an idiot at three at night, and they have also made me want to bang my head on the wall. I am so glad I got to meet all those wonderful people, went to all those breathtaking places, and that Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy never let go of my hand all this while.


Besides her passion for reading, Manjari Gupta is also an enthusiastic writer. Make sure to check out her Tumblr blog here.

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