The books look at me innocently, their pristine covers glowing under the bright lights of the posh bookstore. Rows and rows of shelves filled with mystery, fiction, drama and romance. My eyes travel from one spine to another as my mind registers their names. My face erupts into a smile at books that I have already read; books that have touched my soul. I say hi to all my favourite characters. Harry, Ron and Hermione wave at me from one corner beside my childhood buddies, The Famous Five and their cousins, The Five Find-outers. On my right are shelves filled with Sidney Sheldon’s books, stubborn little creatures that demand to be read in a single sitting. Further ahead are the racy thrillers by Dan Brown alongside Jhumpa Lahiri’s collection of novellas, few of the most powerful short stories I’ve ever read. On my right are the evergreen classics- The Bronte sisters, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Huckleberry Finn and then the master himself, Shakespeare. Oh, what more can anyone possibly want!
Who says love can’t happen twice? It happens to me at least a hundred times when I walk into a bookstore. As Franz Kafka rightly said, “Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” Each book that I’ve read has given me another life, a chance to escape from the mundane realms of quotidian life. It would almost be blasphemous if I picked up one book and said that this particular one has been the most phenomenal of the lot. So, instead, I’d like to do a slightly lengthier version of the book bucket challenge (a far more sensible and enjoyable distant relative of the viral ice bucket challenge) and list down five books that truly touched my heart.
- The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
A wise old man once said to me, “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.” It’s been almost a decade now but the words still manage to come to me whenever I need them. I’ve practically grown up with Harry, Ron and Hermione. I’ve laughed with them; I’ve cried with them. I’ve fought against You-know-who alongside them. Oh, I could write a book about Harry Potter but even that wouldn’t quite sum up the bond between us. It’s been years since this saga came to an end but Harry shall be my hero forever, or as Snape said, “Always”
- Kane and Abel by Jeffery Archer
A novel that spans the lives of two persons with contrasting backgrounds and their journeys as they go places, Kane and Abel is a work of art by Jeffery Archer. Abel is a poor Polish immigrant while Kane is a Boston millionaire. Both of them are born worlds apart but ironically, on the same date. What follows is a complex chain of events that makes both of them arch rivals in the race to success. However, destiny has other plans when Abel’s daughter and Kane’s son fall in love with each other. The climax is something that you’d never imagine. The book even has a sequel by the name ‘The Prodigal Daughter’ featuring Abel’s daughter Florentyna as the main protagonist.
- The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Reading a novel written by an Indian author is always special because there are some things that only Indians can understand. One such thing is leaving your homeland and starting a new life in an alien country. ‘The Namesake’ is the story of one such Bengali couple who migrate to the US leaving behind a lifetime of joy and comfort only to discover the harsh realities of life. Lahiri has a knack for describing her characters’ feelings so accurately that when you read her book you feel you are ‘the one in the book’. An extremely thought-provoking book, ‘The namesake’ is a must read for every booklover.
- Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
When it comes to thrillers, no one can beat Dan Brown. With Robert Langdon, the scholarly symbologist as the handsome protagonist there’s no way you’d put down the book until you finish it. A splendid mix of science and religion, Angels and Demons is about the ultimate clash of fact versus faith. Dan Brown’s unique style of writing, with unexpected twists at the end of every chapter, keeps you on the edge of your seat and makes you temporarily ignorant of what’s happening around you.
- The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
They say, if a book makes you smile, it’s good; but if it makes you cry, it’s special. The Kite Runner is one such novel that moved me so deeply that it changed my perspective towards life. The story, set in Kabul, is about two boys, Amir and Hassan, who grow up together as friends. Amir is the son of a well to do Afghan merchant whereas Hassan is the son of their servant. But this fact never bothers Amir, until an incident takes place that changes their lives forever and tears them apart. Somewhere in his heart Amir knows that it was his actions that caused their friendship to break but he is enveloped by ignorance and ego. However, this feeling is nothing compared to the enormous burden of guilt that Amir has to bear for the rest of his life when he learns that Hassan was much more than just a friend. That is when Amir embarks on a journey of penance that takes him back to his home, Afghanistan. The central theme of the story is friendship, undying, unconditional friendship, that lives on even after life ends.
From the vast collection of books that have inspired me this is just a fraction and if I continued I would very well end up writing an entire novel! That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet. Permutations and combinations of 26 alphabets that transport you to another world, now that’s magic! I wouldn’t know what loneliness was as long as there were good books to read because, in books, I’ve found the truest and purest of joys.