Hi! This is Sinjini Khasnobish and this is the story of how I fell in love with books.
Growing up in a Bengali household, I was always surrounded by bibliophiles. However, unlike the typical Bollywood love story, my affair with books wasn’t really love at first sight. In fact, I hated books. I always felt so bored reading… well, anything. It beat me how anyone could find books interesting. I got a first-hand experience of that following my grade ten exams. I just happened to start reading a Chetan Bhagat book, and, well, I was hooked.
And before I knew it, books had become my escape. Short love stories, poems and novels became my best friends. A couple of years down the line, I had turned to philosophy as well. Reading self-help books such as The Alchemist and The Ministry of Utmost Happiness was a great experience, too. The Alchemist in particular left an indelible imprint on my young mind, setting it up perfectly for the teenage years.
When I got older, I began reading “heavier” books like Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood. The detail in which this book explores life and death leaves you with something really deep to mull over. That said, of all the books I have read to date, there is this short story by Anton Chekhov, The Bet, that really captures the beauty of reading. This book has a beautiful quote, one that has stayed with me:
It is true I have not seen the earth nor men, but in your books I have drunk fragrant wine, I have sung songs, I have hunted stags and wild boars in the forests, have loved women… Beauties as ethereal as clouds, created by the magic of your poets and geniuses, have visited me at night, and have whispered in my ears wonderful tales that have set my brain in a whirl. In your books I have climbed to the peaks of Elburz and Mont Blanc, and from there I have seen the sun rise and have watched it at evening flood the sky, the ocean, and the mountain-tops with gold and crimson. I have watched from there the lightning flashing over my head and cleaving the storm-clouds. I have seen green forests, fields, rivers, lakes, towns. I have heard the singing of the sirens, and the strains of the shepherds’ pipes; I have touched the wings of comely devils who flew down to converse with me of God… In your books I have flung myself into the bottomless pit, performed miracles, slain, burned towns, preached new religions, conquered whole kingdoms… Your books have given me wisdom. All that the unresting thought of man has created in the ages is compressed into a small compass in my brain. I know that I am wiser than all of you…
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