Who isn’t excited about their summer vacation? In 2013, I was too. Like all good things, however, the vacations too came at a price. They invariably brought with them tons of homework, which I absolutely dreaded. Back in those days, the CBSE had recently changed the curriculum, under which they had ‘supplemented’ the homework with English novels. We were required to read a whole novel and then answer the questions provided by the school or the CBSE itself. I wasn’t into reading them, so it felt like an ordeal to me. While it wasn’t very different for other types of homework, this one became an instant nightmare.

The first novel I read that summer was Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. Surprisingly, it took me just three days to finish reading it. As much as I enjoyed the reading experience, I would still not dare to call myself a bookworm – well, not until I had discovered the genius of Sidney Sheldon. Reading Sheldon’s Are You Afraid of the Dark? made me realize what I was missing out on. It was like I had just figured out what cocaine was – except that I would get high on the story. What had started as a nightmare soon turned into the best vacation of my life. I lost my way through the pages of the mystery of his works; it was as if I were on a journey, during which I lived and breathed every character, feeling what they felt. It was a truly surreal experience.

In fact, I was so engrossed with the book that I carried it along even when I went to answer the call of nature. I would stay up all night. I was so curious to know what happened next that I kept reading one page after another. With every page, I would not just find the answers to my questions, but would come face to face with new questions. It was an endless loop. Ironically, Sheldon’s last book was my first and it ended up opening a whole new world for me. No, it rather opened the doors to different worlds for me.

I read another five books of Sheldon before the vacations came to an end. And I haven’t looked back since then. To be honest, I don’t even want to look back. It is almost unimaginable for me to exist in a world where books are not a part of my life. Books are, after all, works of real people like you and I; they are a part of them and they give us an insight into a few precious moments of their lives. And that, I believe, is simply beautiful.

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