Celebrating the joy of reading

A few days back I met an elderly gentleman in a library in Mangalore. He was there to return a book that he had borrowed. The book was Pavilion of Women, if I remember it correctly. He stroke up a brief and very interesting conversation with me. In those few minutes, he spoke about the novels of Pearl S. Buck, why he liked her books, about the amazing culture of China, about some thrillers written by Frederick Forsyth and about how reading has enriched his life. His eyes shone as he spoke fondly about the books and the authors he liked. “Travelling and reading” he said “are the best ways to explore the world.” The words of that charming gentleman reassured my belief in books. I have been a voracious reader all my life.

I cannot remember a day in my childhood that went without reading few pages from books. As a school going kid, I had been scolded many times by my parents for bringing books to the dining table. They tried, in vain, to put me off that ‘awful’ habit. In those times, when there was no internet or smart phones, it was books that gave me a window to the world. I grew up reading some of the most beautiful books in Kannada and English. When somebody asks me, which is my favourite place to be, without wasting a moment I answer ‘between the pages of a book’. An image of me from my schooldays, reading an interesting book in my room in a rainy Saturday afternoon is etched in my mind as the happiest moment of my life.

I always liked giving books as gifts. You go to a bookshop (or a website), browse the different shelves, and after doing some really good thinking, you buy a book that you feel would make that person happy. It is so much personal than, say, buying a teddy bear as a gift. There are some good friends who know exactly what type of books would I be interested in. By looking at the books they gifted me one could say how well they know me. Some of the books on my shelf that I really enjoyed reading are, in fact, gifted by my friends. I always associate their names with these books. The titles ‘Life of Pie’ and ‘ A Thousand Splendid Suns’ remind me of my dearest friend who is an extremely talented wordsmith, ‘A Brief History of Time’ reminds me of my best buddy who loves cosmology, ‘The Lowland’ reminds me of that friend who likes reading good books as much as I do, while ‘Sea of Poppies’ reminds me of another friend who is a great bibliophile. These books, as interesting as they are, also evoke a strong association with the ones who gifted them to me.
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On my birthday this year, I got Amazon Kindle from my dear friends Anjalika and her son Vishal. It was, undoubtedly, a very thoughtful gift from these two wonderful friends. What is the best gadget one can gift to a friend who loves reading? Right! I am a romantic who loves the touch, feel and smell of the books. I adore written words. The typeset, the quality of paper used and the design of the book also matter a lot to me, just like the content that it carries. I may not judge a book by its cover, but if aesthetically designed, the cover will definitely catch my fancy. Reading has always been a rich mixture of visual, olfactory and tactile experience for me. So where does Kindle fit in all this?

I must say that I was very sceptical when the world was going gaga over e-book readers. Not that I haven’t read any e-books before, but I was never a big fan. I found straining my eyes gaping at the laptop screen, tab or mobile was more of a killjoy than reading. Kindle has proved me wrong to a large extent. I am in love with this gadget now. The reading experience is superbly pleasant, to say the least. Kindle not only provides you an access to an overwhelming collection of great books, but also enhances the reading experience. While it certainly cannot give you the touch, feel or smell of a book, it does have some wonderful features that conventional books may not give you. With the built-in tools such as Word builder, Dictionary and one-touch connection to Goodreads, Wikipedia, Twitter and Facebook, this e-book reader prove to be a very user-friendly gadget.

This is a must-have for those people who love books. I know many readers of my blog are great booklovers. While I am on my book-buying spree on Kindle, you can answer a small question at the end of this post. I am just curious to know your thoughts on Kindle and books. Thanks in advance. With Kindle, I am celebrating the joy of reading.

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