Confessions of a Book Lover

I’ve been asked by a lot of my friends/family on how and why I read so much, on what I intend to gain from reading those books, be it Agatha Christie or Ayn Rand, Robert Ludlum or, very recently, Haruki Murakami. I never gave a proper answer, ended the conversation with a ‘they just keep me from getting bored’. But when I pause and think about why I love books (in general) and love some books enough to re-read them, I think the answer is pretty different. Yes, they do keep me from getting bored, but why? The TV would keep me from getting bored too, so why books? Two word answer – intellectual stimulation.

We are constantly looking out for things (materialistic or otherwise) to improve our existence, our life. Anything we do will point towards that one tenet. That particular characteristic comes bundled up with the human DNA – the quest for improvement. One can find that in many different ways – some find it by travelling places, some find it in their kitchens and some, like me, happen to find it in books. Well, if not all, at least a very large part, in books.

I, for one, find immense pleasure when I discover books and authors. When I picked up Fountainhead, I had no idea it was a big-deal-book,Β had never heard of Ayn Rand before that andΒ hadn’t even read anything beyond Sidney Sheldon or Jeffery Archer! I’ve read it thrice (cover to cover) till date andΒ still haven’t got enough of it. If anything, it’s only made me to want to read it all over again. I’ve spent hours pouring over Rand’s essays on Objectivity, trying to assimilate the theories she puts forth with so much conviction. It affects you in a big way. Words, their articulation, the meanings – hidden and otherwise and above all, the ideas that the author conveys to you which in turn, makes you think. Intellectual stimulation.

There was a point when I read only to pass time. Over the years, my choices and my reasons have grown with me in maturity. There used to be a time when I could finish a 500 page novel in a day flat. You don’t need to ‘think’ when you read a Sheldon or an Agatha Christie (IMHO, ofcourse). But it’s not easy to do that to a Murakami or a Kafka tome. It’s pure foolishness to do that! Because some authors are a thinker’s author. You take time with their words and ideas. You let it sink in and you coax your mind to think further, like the author intended you to and go a step further and see for yourself if that particular thought would help you make your life better, even in a small way. Therein lies the beauty of the written word. Therein lies intellectual stimulation.

Books bring understanding. This life, in all its complexity, has been lived by many and will be lived by many more. My experiences in life are different from yours. But the underlying emotions are all the same – love, success, failure, disappointment, respect, humor. This is why some authors speak right to your heart. The similarity with your own life is uncanny because the emotions beneath are the same. Aristophanes’ theory about man’s search for his/her ‘other half’, for example, is one the best explanations I have read about Love and the concept of soulmates. And if you think I went about searching for Aristphanes’ complete works to know this, you’re mistaken – I have Paulo Coelho (in his ‘Eleven Minutes’) and Haruki Murakami (in his ‘Kafka on the shore’) to thank for this piece! Which brings me back to intellectual stimulation.

To quote the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, “Without books the development of civilization would have been impossible. They are the engines of change, windows on the world, ‘Lighthouses’ as the poet said ‘erected in the sea of time.’ They are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of the mind; books are humanity in print.”

Humanity in print. That’s the beauty of words, of books.

To bask in this beauty is beyond all definitions of pleasure. And that is why I read.

Now, if you ask me one more time on why I read, I’ll have to run you through this post all over again. So, watch it!


22 thoughts on “Confessions of a Book Lover

  1. Ahh! Confessions of a fellow book lover!

    My books are my best friends. Lifelong companions whom I turn to, not only when I need a laugh or need cheering up, but also sometimes when I want to share their pain.

    Udasi achchi nahi hoti Babumoshai…?

    Reading a book is like living a life. Sometimes it’s like watching a life lived. When you reach the last page you can shut your eyes and the whole book plays like a movie inside your head and it’s like you have met all those people and known them all your life.

    Don’t want to take up space in your comment section dear girl…will continue my monologue in a future post!

    Before I leave, here’s a ‘.’ – that is a ’til’ so that Pingu isn’t accused of nazar- lagaofying when Priya takes a vacation πŸ˜€


  2. naan kooda harry potternnu oru book padichirkaen πŸ™‚ Have you read it? Very intellectually stimulating.

    So kafka is a book! Naan koftha maadhiri adhuvum onnunnu nenachaen.


  3. Pingu – Thanks for the ’til’ πŸ™‚ and please do post that monologue so I can come and rant in your comment space πŸ˜‰

    Priya Iyer – yep, I’d probably be dead if it weren’t for my books! πŸ™‚

    Manoj – you know, it depends on what you take out of a book. Harry Potter tomes might not give you any useful info (as its completely imaginary) but there’s a lot you can learn from JKR’s style of writing, her wit, her ability to describe things that exist only in her mind (to name a few!) so yeah, I find the HP books intellectuallly stimulating too! πŸ™‚ Kafka says thanks, btw πŸ˜‰


  4. I’ve read quite a few posts on why people like books , during random blog-hops….But this happens to be the very first very mature post on books, that I’ve ever come across πŸ™‚
    This post has sort of imbued the idea of being unbiased, as far as books are concerned πŸ™‚ I’ll have to probably start ‘discovering’ new authors and read their books….
    After a long time me is using this word, wrt your post – ‘Awesome’ πŸ™‚ (Was it awesome or amazing ?? :|)


  5. What do you mean “not give you any useful info”? It does give me a lot. It might be weird, but when someone’s shouting at me in a fight, like my mom or dad for example, I just say in my mind “Ridiculus” and imagine them in weird costumes and proportions. That’s pretty useful. Yeah, I even use the “Expecto Patronum” when I feel down. And immediately, a happy energizer bunny appears and happily hops around my head. That really works for me. Harry potter has a LOT of such hidden messages for what I know. It’s fun too. Really!

    And tell kafka not to mention it. But I would still prefer kofthas in my free time πŸ™‚


  6. Sometimes one book is all it takes to stimulate the passion of reading in someone. Sometimes it takes many. Or sometimes it is just posts like these! πŸ™‚

    I’ll never forget my colorful voyages through the lands of Enid blyton, hardy boys, goosebumps, animorphs, Harry potter, Agatha christie, LOTR, Coelho, Stroud, Rand, etc…

    As you see the list gets more mature as it progresses..

    But whatever said, It was “Hidey hole” by enid blyton which made me read…hook line and sinker!!


  7. Vivek – too late, I already said all I had to say! πŸ˜‰

    Sharan – there’s no better journey than the journey through books! πŸ™‚

    Me – πŸ™‚ I know someone who hasn’t read those three also.. idhu epdi irukku? πŸ˜‰


  8. Why don’t you do a My-Favourite-Authors post? I’m a huge book reader, too, and my main frustration is that I seem to have already read every book recommended to me and I tend to make poor choices when I pick at random from the library. Yes, I have read Kafka on the shore, read and re-read Atlas Shrugged (and Fountainhead and We the living – but the latter was not good worth a re-read), and I must have read Asimov’s Foundation novels about a million times (I am a big SciFi fan). Sometimes I feel like carrying a placard and screaming, “Book lovers unite!!” πŸ™‚


  9. a true book-lover’s plight! There’s a tag pending on me on Books – so maybe now is a good time to take that! πŸ™‚ and yeah, whenever you make that placard, holler at my blog once – I’ll join you in the march πŸ˜‰


  10. I have always wondered what would happen if a language is lost in the mists of time. Eroded by invasion, forgetten by neglect. I wonder how many shakespeares has mankind forgotten to date…all those authors who had the misfortune to write in a language that is not spoken today. Native American poems perhaps, Inca epics perhaps….What if somebody wrote a tragedy more moving than King Lear in an extinct dialect of undeciphered Polynesian?


  11. That’s a very serious prospect, indeed. Forget Polynesian, languages like Latin and Sanskrit are already considered ‘dead’ even though they’re the medium for a large number of epics and of history itself in a lot of cases. We can only take comfort in the fact that we did recognize the at least one William Shakespeare!

    And talking about languages forgotten by neglect, I’m a very good example – I can’t write or read fluently in my mother tongue (telugu) 😦


  12. Oh!So you update this blog also!? Was waiting for your posts on the other! Can’t agree more. Intellectual stimulation. That’s it. By the way have you read The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins? Some of your ideas seem influenced by it!


  13. WHAAA?!!! so you update this blog also vaaa?!! duuuude! this is like my main blog 😦 come to think of it, I’ve never seen you comment on this blog now, have I? nope.. ok, for the record, this is where I’m mostly roaming around… πŸ™‚ and no, I haven’t read Dawkins..yet! πŸ™‚


  14. Why do you rea- oops!
    Not asking. Don’t even have to read the post all over again. Voiced my feelings.

    The question is, how do you manage to update Thought Processes so often? And what’s a pathipat?


  15. Sathej – No problemo! and thank you! πŸ™‚

    Princess – lol @ ‘a pathipat’..its just my ID at work..all the urls I wanted on blogspot were taken, so in a fit of frustration I used the next best thing to my name – my ID! πŸ™‚ as to how I manage to update TP so often, it’s a relatively new thing..donno why I keep getting profound and/or crazy ideas too often these days! could be an effect of a certain royal person πŸ˜‰




  17. Pingback: Thank you, Blogsville! « uniquely priya

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