A man is known by the company he keeps; a bookworm is known by the books s/he reads.
We are all works-in-progress. We are all a structure that is never complete – we are always being built. It’s like being a house – you add a new room on the second floor, you start a garden in your backyard, you get the walls painted, you get the window panes changed, you repair the taps and you call it home.
We are all made of people and places and things. I have met many people in my life and been to quite a few places, but if I have to really define myself of my components – the things I’m made of – only one thing comes to mind. Books.
I never grew up reading books, not like a bookworm at least. My mother or grandmother often told me stories, but most of them were not from books. They were the fables of their childhood, stories that have prevailed for generations in our culture.
I did not really step into the world of books until the twelfth year of my life. My best friend back then offered to lend me a book she had (one of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books, The Night of the Living Dummy II) and it changed my life. I had stepped into the literary world and I knew that I would never leave it
My first reads were all Goosebumps before I moved on to bigger books, and those are the books that have built me up. Here are the ones I hold the closest to my heart:
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This was the first book that I read after Goosebumps. It was massive and it was beautiful. Its promise of a story about words and books enticed me, and that was the only part I remembered from the synopsis. However, when I started reading, it was a completely different world that I was in. I read it all day. When I was finished, it left me with a feeling that I’d never experienced before.
The first read of the book helped me discover the kind of stories I really loved to read, and later on it just became more and more favorite with every re-read as I noticed something I hadn’t the last time. I want to read the book again, and this time I’m approaching it with the hope that it would help me accept my two biggest fears – sorrow and death.
Rain in the Mountains: Notes from the Himalayas by Ruskin Bond
I shall always be grateful for having given in to my curiosity and asking my classmate if I could borrow the beautiful green book she was holding. I’d heard about Bond a lot, but it was the first time I was reading a book by him. If The Book Thief changed me as a reader, then Rain in the Mountains changed me as a writer. Writing wasn’t a regular habit back then, but I was very passionate about it, and it was difficult for me to comprehend the writing advice I read online. All of that made sense when I read this anthology of poems, articles, essays, journals and diary entries (and an unpublished play).
Bond taught me what I’d been unable to learn from writing websites and blogs: how to observe things, how to be present in the moment, and how to put it all into words. Most importantly, he taught me how to live life and love it.
I still haven’t finished reading this book yet, but it has already started changing me. It came to me at a time when I was creatively hungry for art and for knowledge, and the book satisfies that hunger in the best way possible. Neil Gaiman talks to me through this book like the mentor I always needed. He says things in a way that make them unforgettable. He makes you believe in the impossible and the unimaginable things that are hidden in our heart and can only escape through the things we create.
It has become a holy book for me, as Stephen Fry said it would be for millions. I cannot wait to finish the rest of it.
Every reader knows that s/he’s made up of all the books s/he’s read and that their soul is scattered in all of them, but there some book that are different, that stamp your heart with their words. These are the books that I’m composed of. What are the books that shaped you?