I am participating in The Estella Society‘s Book Blogger Appreciation Week (from February 15 to 19), and I will use this opportunity to write about my favourite books, bloggers, and introspect about my writing and reading habits.
Day 1: Introduce yourself by telling us about five books that represent you as a person or your interests/lifestyle.
I borrowed two books from my favourite cousin, when I was about 18. They were Sidney Sheldon’s If Tomorrow Comes, and Tell Me Your Dreams. As though I decided to read only after turning 18, I read my first novel after I finished school. I have no clue about how I endured life till then. Later, I read Robin Sharma’s The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, and a couple of books of Osho’s, because those were the kind of books my father read, and those were what I could find at home. Then I didn’t read for about four years; I don’t know why I stopped reading. Or like Gabrielle Zevin wrote in The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, “Sometimes books don’t find us until the right time,” and perhaps, I was waiting to meet the right book. From 2012, I managed to read about 10 books every year, and have been reading more passionately from last year.
As I started late, my story is a lot similar to The Queen’s in Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader. She was an opsimath too. An adorable one at that. 🙂 I am a greedy reader; I tend to ignore my family, friends, and my daily activities to steal time, and devour more books. Just like The Queen. The Uncommon Reader comforted me by saying that one is never too old for books. “You don’t put your life into your books, you find it there.”
I think I am going to be annoying like A.J. Fikry, when I grow up. 😉 And, that’s not saying something at all. “You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favorite book?” I am beginning to annoy my folks by only talking about books, or presenting books, or reading my favourite passages to them. I wish my friends and family could understand this: “They had only ever discussed books but what, in this life, is more personal than books?” 🙂
I heart Aaliya from Rabih Alameddine’s An Unnecessary Woman. I blogged about the book a few months ago, and I wrote this, “Aaliya, the septuagenarian, from Beirut is strikingly unconventional. Technically, the childless divorcee lives alone. But, she is always in the company of great writers, and their tomes. The woman, who is a sucker for rituals, begins translating a book on the 1st of January every year. After having retired as a shop-keeper at a bookstore, Aaliya spends all her time only by reading and translating.” Besides the translation part, my life is a lot, lot like Aaliya’s. Her demons are mine, her gods are mine, and her battles are mine too. “I slipped into art to escape life. I sneaked off into literature.”
Cheryl Strayed’s Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail was exactly what I wanted to read when everything was downhill. In her words, I found solace, and hope. Maybe, only because of the book, I assured myself that it was okay to fall over and over again, so long as I was prepared to pick myself up. Strayed’s Wild, and Tiny Beautiful Things nourished my soul, and I relate to most things that she explored. It takes a lot for one to forgive oneself. Strayed helped me to get started. “I was amazed that what I needed to survive could be carried on my back. And, most surprising of all, that I could carry it.”
Like the nameless narrator in Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane, my memories about my childhood flicker. To stop it from fading away completely, I often write about my childhood. And these days, to prop up my unreliable memory, I blog about every significant thing — ugly, and beautiful — that takes place in my life. Regardless of how it might appear to the reader, I keep writing. Because one day, these blogs would matter a lot when I look back.
Since I am a sloth, I intend to lead a lazy life like those ordinary characters from Ruskin Bond‘s and RK Narayan‘s books. 🙂 I am a sucker for what David Michie calls pure presence in The Dalai Lama’s Cat. “I like this definition of of mindfulness,” said Chogyal to Tenzin… “‘Mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment deliberately and non-judgementally.’ Nice and clear, isn’t it?” Tenzin nodded. “Not dwelling on thoughts of the post or the future, or some kind of fantasy,” elaborated Chogyal. “I like an even simpler definition by Sogyal Rinpoche,” said Tenzin, sitting back in his chair. “Pure presence.” Chogyal mused, “Hmm. No mental agitation or elaboration of any kind.” Tenzin confirmed, “Exactly. The foundation of all contentment.”
I am a lot like Hagrid from Harry Potter when it comes to animals. I find a slice of myself in every book that features animals, and children’s literature. EB White’s Charlotte’s Web, AA Milne’s Winnie The Pooh, Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse, and The Butterfly Lion, Diana Wynne Jones’s Dogsbody…
Although the host asked us to write about five books, I ended up becoming a non-conformist on Day 1 itself. I think, I share that trait, and many more with Ifemelu. Remember Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah? 🙂