The smell of old parchment pervades my room like petrichor. I am a self-confessed bibliophile who has grown up reading books. Just like Aladdin’s carpet transports him to magical faraway lands, reading exciting books carries me to my own version of a utopian world. When I am completely engrossed in reading a book, it is as if I am in an ivory tower, disconnected from the practicalities and harsh necessities of everyday life.

I have been a voracious reader since my formative years. My parents initiated me into the fascinating world of books in my childhood itself. Our bookshelf would be adorned with a myriad of books, ranging from dictionaries, children’s books, reference books, magazines, cookbooks, health journals and whatnot. It was not uncommon to catch me with my nose buried in comics like Chacha Chaudhary, Tinkle, Amar Chitra Katha, and children’s magazines like Chandamama and Gokulam, among others.

I would later transition to more refined reads such as the Harry Potter series, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, the Ramayana, and the Mahabharata. I also had the chance to read of some of the best works of Jeffrey Archer.

R. K. Narayan, the author of the classic fiction Malgudi Days, had a particularly profound impact on me. His description of the rural idyll of a fictitious place called Malgudi in the south of India left an indelible imprint on my mind. The protagonist was Swami, an unassuming, mischievous boy. Narayan’s exquisite portrayal of the peculiarities of human relationships and the ironies of daily life in India, where a modern urban existence is always at odds with ancient tradition, is simply breathtaking.

The Harry Potter series also made my reading journey so much more enjoyable, taking me to a surreal fantasy world characterized by witchcraft and wizardry, magic wands, spells, flying broomsticks, dungeons, dragons and magical creatures.

I feel that reading is a very good habit that must ideally be fostered at a young age. Good books make us more knowledgeable and inspire us to set higher goals in life. They improve our language skills and boost our vocabulary. In a competitive world where communication skills are so important, an avid reader has a natural advantage over everyone else. However, a good book is so much more than that – it can be a best friend, a mentor, and a guide.

Reading is important because it shapes our personality and molds our intellect. Once you begin reading, it gradually turns into a positive addiction. It can even help us beat stress! Reading for a few minutes a day is a good way to flex our brain muscles. English essayist and poet, Joseph Addison, once said: “Reading is to the mind is what exercise is to the body.”

All in all, the cardinal virtue of reading helps foster positive thinking, gives wings to our imagination and creativity, develops our analytical skills, and kills boredom. I would like to sum up with a well-known quote from Mark Twain:

The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.


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