Only passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things — Denis Diderot
On a sultry summer evening, as a 13-year-old, I was looking out of the window of my home, waiting anxiously for my parents. When they came home, my mom handed over a package to me. It was my gift for coming 1st in the class. In anticipation, when I opened the package, I see is a set of 5 books of varying thicknesses. The thickest of them was War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy. While my 13-year-old self was disappointed for a moment, the smell of the new books attracted me to them and thus started my love affair with reading books.
Growing up, books were my best friends. There is nothing like the smell of books. It is so enduring and intoxicating. One of my fondest memories associated with it is my visits to my Nani’s (maternal grandmother’s) place. The first thing I used to do on visiting her place is to make a beeline to her bookshelf, pick up a bunch of books, and start reading them in a corner, oblivious of the hula bulla going around.
Reading has been the gateway to my imaginative world. It helped me to see the world from a different perspective. In fact, reading connected me with my first love — writing. I poured all my imagination into my writing.
If Chanda mama connected me with Indian and world history, David Copperfield and Oliver Twist made me a thankful, compassionate person while pride and prejudice, Jane Eyre connected me with my softer side.
As I started working, with changing priorities, I lost touch with both reading and writing. Until one day, something snapped inside me. I was visiting my friend’s place for a night out. There were books all around. Despite her hectic schedule, she had time for reading. It triggered in me that if she can, why can’t I? Thus, I reignited my love for books.
Friends, today, I make sure that, I read at least a few pages of a book in a day. Oh! the feeling of curling up to a good book at the end of the day is not only enjoyable but also a great stress buster. In fact, a 2009 study by the University of Sussex researchers found that reading for as few as six minutes reduces stress by 68 %. In the UK, doctors have been recommending bibliotherapy or treatment using books for patients with mental health.
Personally, I feel that reading has shaped me into the person that I am today.
Friends, though reading is my passion, it doesn’t have to be yours. So, whether it is reading or something different, my challenge to you is to pursue something that matters to you, something that piques your interest and speaks to your heart. I promise you that it will be an enriching, life-changing experience.