I was introduced to reading by my mother at the age of four. She always used to tell me that I was a hyperactive kid and she felt books would be a safe option to keep me occupied all day. In doing that she not only passed on her love for books but also ensured I was addicted for life.
During the summer holidays as we travelled in trains to reach my grandmother’s place both me and my brother were allotted a budget to buy anything to keep us entertained throughout the journey. My brother would buy a game and me a book, obviously. Somehow the book never stayed till the end. I would finish it within few hours and begin to irk my mother to get me more. Fortunately for me our school had a library which fueled my passion more and with passage of time I began to ask for books as gifts on every occasion hence solving this issue completely.So here I am sharing with you the 5 books which were not only my first reads but also ones that define childhood for me till date.
1. Cindrella – One of the first stories I read apart from Champak, Tinkle, Chandamama and Archies comics. Needless to say I feel in love with it. Till date I have read various versions of this story and loved each one. For me it defines strength and faith. Cindrella was strong and never let her faith waiver. This remains my most favourite fairy tale till date.
2. Malgudi Days – Thanks to DD National I was introduced to the master story teller R K Narayan very young. This series led me to reading all his works and loving each one of them more than the other. His simplicity along with his unique ability to show the beauty of life amidst the chaos was what drew me to his writings. He was my favourite author, is and will always be. The power of simplicity cannot be explained any better than his writings. They are sheer magic.
3. 20000 leagues under the sea – This is the first book I picked up from my school library. I faintly remember I was in fifth standard, around 10 years of age. My classmates were making fun of me for picking such a thick book. I just smiled at them. There was something about it that fascinated me. I stayed awake to read the book that night and was enchanted by the world that I visited through this book.
4. Rebecca – An absent teacher was what introduced me to this masterpiece. Well, our science teacher was on leave for about a fortnight and there was a proxy teacher who came to our class during that period. Unable to handle the noise, she decided to share with us the story of the book she was reading then. Gradually I began to look forward to her classes; I wanted to know what happened next. Years later I finally managed to get a copy of my own of this book. Till date I have read it a dozen times but every single time the author mesmerizes me with something new that I had not noticed till now.
5. Nirmala – We had a chapter from this novel as a part of our curriculum and there was something immensely powerful about that chapter which made me read this novel completely. This was not only my first Hindi novel but it also paved way for me to read more Hindi authors like Manu Bhandari, Amrita Pritam and gradually move on to other Indian languages like Urdu, Bengali, Tamil etc. Our curriculum was also the place where I was introduced to Shakespeare and ended up reading his entire collection of work over a period of time. Some borrowed, some gifted and some hunted his books were my introduction to a different world altogether.
This list is exhaustive and there are a lot of books that can be added to it but these 5 are special. What are your childhood memories when it comes to reading? Any recommendations for books which are a must read?