Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.

Charles W. Eliot

My love affair with books began while growing up in a family that owned a bookstore. As far as I can remember, I have had an innate fascination for books. I can spend the entire day in the library or a bookstore, not reading, but browsing and admiring the colorful covers and titles of the books.

Padho Likho! (The Hindi phrase for ‘Read and Write’) is what every middle-class Indian parent counseled their kids in the ’80s and ’90s. My parents were not highly educated, but they believed that the key to success lay in education. So, being the obedient child that I was, I did just that. The only difference was that they wanted me read my schoolbooks while I chose to read anything but. I would eagerly look forward to the weekend visits to the bookstore with my dad. These visits were like an opportunity to delve into the mysterious world of stories that could only exist in one’s imagination. I would read whatever I could lay my hands on – comics, short stories, and picture books.

As I grew a little older, detective novels like Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and Sherlock Holmes drew my attention. I also enjoyed reading Agatha Christie’s novels, so much so that I began cooking up my own version of crime thrillers. Throughout the summer, my friends would run around, watch TV, or indulge in friendly fights. On the other hand, I would immerse myself in Amar Chitra Katha or Champak. For an introvert like me, books provided a sense of comfort and became my best friends.

Growing up in the pre-Google era, books were the only readily available source of knowledge and information. Can you imagine picking up a dictionary, an Atlas, or an encyclopedia just because you are bored? Well, it was a norm then, and we even played games to prove our superior factual knowledge.

My reading habits also helped me in my academics. I could comprehend well and express myself even better through my writing. Reading enabled me to acknowledge and embrace different cultures and broadened my horizons. Books like How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey helped me become more productive. Meanwhile, ones like The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari and The Alchemist took me on the inner journey to discover what really mattered in life.

I recently read Dr. Joe Dispenza’s You are the Placebo. The book talks about the power of the human body to heal, merely by changing one’s thoughts. The techniques shared in the book made me feel empowered to take charge of my health and happiness.

A writer cannot become a good writer, and a good writer cannot become a better writer unless he reads. It is this habit of reading that has taught me to express my thoughts in words. And while we increasingly use digital means to source information, I still prefer to chill with a cup of hot chai and a book.

A NOTE TO OUR READERS

Varsha prides herself on being both a reader and a writer. Follow her on Instagram here to check out her handy nuggets of wisdom.

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