“TO READ and WHAT TO READ?” that is the question. Yes this quote has been inspired by the famous opening phrase of a soliloquy “To be or not to be…” in the “Nunnery Scene” of William Shakespeare‘s play Hamlet.
This question takes prominence as I enter the small bookshop, at the centre of a row of shops, in the hustle bustle of a shopping complex in our locality. It is a small place with books lined up all around the walls, neatly arranged topic-wise and author-wise. The interiors with wooden cupboards and wooden flooring, accompanied by a perfect yellow lighting to match, are welcoming. A person like me would spend hours shuffling through books and breathing the aroma of newly printed copies that envelope the cool air coming from the air-conditioning vents. I always refrain from doing so and remind myself that I have many chores to attend to now than I would previously ,when I was all by myself, as a student.
I clearly recollect my school days when we had a time allocated in our primary classes allotted to ‘R.R’ or ‘RAPID READING’ in our timetable of school. During this time we were supposed to read books like Gulliver’s Travels, Oliver Twist or read out poems from poetry books which were part of our curricular books and subscribed by the school as per the grade in which we were studying.
This period of ‘R.R’ was what we looked forward to, as we would be reading books and not writing as required for other subjects. Though, at times, this period was taken over by other subject teachers, in case they needed to complete their syllabus, and we were deprived of Rapid reading. As we went in higher grades, this time was set aside as ‘LIBRARY’. This is when we got a book, out of the various books kept in our library, to take home for a week and read it. It was a bonus to have them home and sometimes if we finished reading it soon we would exchange them with those of our friends’ and so have the credit of reading two books in a week. I feel the seeds, and later on the habit, of reading rather good reading (‘good’- suggestive of both meaningful and literary) were sown in these years not only by my school but also by my parents.
I do not recollect but my mother used to recall that I used to read a small book, having a Russian story, translated in English and had one or two words each on a page and easy enough for a three year old to read. I had read it so many times that I had the whole book by heart word by word from the front cover to the back-cover, which featured the name of the Russian writer. I would narrate it entirely without a halt- beginning at the story name and ending at the last page with the author’s name.
As our vocabulary and sense of languages grew we started reading books in Marathi(being our mother tongue we had many Marathi books) and Hindi too, apart from English. We soon had books like ‘Isapniti’(Tales of Aesop), ‘Panchatantra’, Tarzan Marathi book Series(1-10,), Gotya(Part 1-5,N.D.Tamhankar), Ramayan, Mahabharat, Tales Of Tenali Raman, Akbar Birbal stories. Also books by well known authors like P. L Deshpande, V.P.Kale, Shanta Shelke started forming part of our library. Chandoba ,Chandamama, Tinkle, Amar Chitra Katha, Chacha Choudhary were like our casual friends. Later on books like Archies, Secret Seven,Famous Five(Enid Blyton), Agatha Christie took prominence as there was this teenage excitement about mystery books and college fun.
In college, though studies and practical took most our time yet books related to Science, Management and Autobiographies formed a part of our reading. Our parents gave us the best books that they could buy at every stage of our student phase and not just one or two but at least half a dozen each time they bought.
And so with this love created within me I always have a tough time selecting books as I always feel I should read and own all the books! I quickly pick up three books one for me and two for my little kids and answer the above dilemma preoccupying my thoughts. Hence continues my journey, in which I am now accompanied by my two kids and husband, exploring books and enjoying the adventure along!!!HAPPY READING …until next time!!