As you would already have noticed, I’m a bit of a bibliophile and I do have a soft spot for books of any sort. Even though I do spend a fair amount of time in front of a computer, there’s nothing I like better than to curl up with a good book at the end of the day. Books also made the long commutes that I used to have to endure much more bearable – that and reading myself to sleep on the bus seats on the way home. Have always loved books and the purchasing of them has always been one of my weaknesses – how to stop when there are so many great ones out there?
India’s a great place for me because of the abundance of relatively inexpensive books – I’m a big fan of a particular second-hand bookshop called Blossoms which has three stories worth of books from the very old to the fairly recent. Browsing in Blossoms can a tad more uncomfortable than the megastores that we’re used to back home as the aisles between the shelves are pretty narrow, the books are often shelved 2-deep necessitating a fair amount of digging which would lead to sneezes as the digging would loosen the dust that covers most of the books and last but not least, the frequent power outages mean that it’s either hot (when the power goes out) or dieselly (when the generator kicks in). Be that as it may, it’s still a great place to be at and I’ve spent many a Sunday afternoon browsing and ultimately purchasing stuff from there.
Reading is commonly considered to be a form of escape, allowing us to move easily into different worlds and into the minds of the best and greatest, at least for a while. One can easily get lost in a good book as I did recently when I lost a couple of hours of sleep finishing Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel, The Namesake. The other thing that I like about books is how they inspire me. Finishing a book always makes me want to write something in response (though that doesn’t always happen) – in a similar genre of course. Reading Isaiah Berlin’s essays led me to start on some of my own; felt like writing poetry after sojourns with T.S. Eliot and Rabindranath Tagore; almost wanted to write about my own limited travels after reading William Dalrymple’s books on India (this just one of them). The blog’s a good outlet for this though I find that the inspiration tends to get toned down a couple of notches once I reach the computer – but the good thing is that I’m almost compelled to write.
There’s been much talk about how books are doomed and with devices like Amazon’s Kindle and more in the pipeline, some think that books aren’t going to last much longer. I beg to differ. I’m no fan of reading stuff off a screen but I can get by if forced to. A musty smelling book or even one with nasty ink fumes beats the sterile computer or PDA screen anytime because of the feel of things. There’s the sound of the pages as you flip them that reminds you of the book that’s in your hand along with the weight of the knowledge and information that one can hold. That or the fact that I’m still a little old fashioned.
A peek into my horribly messy bookcase. The disclaimer here is that many of them are borrowed from colleagues, friends and the school library. Those are the ‘normal’ ones. The weirder ones are mine.
*Book post also happens to be a service available here that allows me to post books back home at a reduced rate. I’ll definitely need it by the looks of things. People tell me that they don’t even use a box but stitch your books into cotton bag and it get sent out by sea. Sounds cool already.