It’s been more than 10 years now that I have been actively reading. The reader you see me as now, I wasn’t like this 10 years back. To be honest, I actually hated reading. But that was the 12 year old me. The 23 year old me is now a completely different person and if I had known how reading would change my life, I would have started early.
In November 2017, author Rachel Amphlett sent a newsletter to all her readers telling us about the first crime novel she read. I loved the email so much that I replied to her with my story. Reading my reply, Rachel pushed me to write this experience as a blog post. So here I am sharing the same with you all. Hope you enjoy reading this and do let me know about your story too. You can read Rachel’s story here.
So let’s enter the TARDIS and go back to 2005.
Annual parent-teacher meeting. I’m in 5th grade, sitting opposite my class teacher with my mother next to me. My English vocabulary was poor. And with poor I mean, very poor. I needed a great helping in vocabulary. So, my teacher suggested me I read some novels, to understand the language and learn new words.
Now, at that time, I never read anything with was more than five sides of a regular sized page. I was simply not interested in any reading. I found it boring and time consuming (without even giving it a try). My mother bought me a couple of children’s story books but I never picked them up. (Note – One of these books was a hardcover Heidi by Johanna Spyri, which later became one of my favourite books and I still have the copy with me.)
Cut to 2007, I saw almost everyone with a book in their hand. In my class of 45 girls, at least 30 were reading some form of literature. The two most prominent books at that time were Harry Potter and Twilight. Now, seeing so many of my friends read I felt the peer pressure to indulge in this activity too. But then I hit a roadblock. I was scared of the price and the size of these books. At that time, I simply couldn’t afford to buy these books. I didn’t even know if I’d read them.
So, as any child would do, I went to my mother with my problem. The first question my mother asked me was what type of book I would like to read. The answer was an instant reaction. Mystery novel. Nothing fluffy, nothing romantic. I wanted to read something that surprised me, where I could think. My mother’s reply to that was Agatha Christie. (Note- Well, for some reason, my mother calls Agatha Christie, Alistair MacLean. She still mixes up the two.)
Later in the evening, we went to a local toy shop which also had a section of books right at the back of the store. And among all the Nancy Drews, and Hardy Boys, and Harry Potters, and Twilights, I found three selves of Agatha Christies. After spending an hour in the store I came out with Agatha Christie’s The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, a collection of 6 short stories. The size and price of this book was manageable.
It took me 6 months to complete this 363-page book. Shocking to think about it now but this was the first time I read a complete book. To say my review for this book in the simplest and shortest way – I loved this book. But what happened after completing this book was shocking and surprising, even to me. After I was done with this book, I went to my mum and told her I wanted another one. That was the moment when the reader in me was born, all thanks to Agatha Christie. Slowly and steadily, I devoured all Agatha Christies I could get my hands on from the school library. I was so obsessed about and possessed by Hercule Poirot that I read nothing but the novels in which he made presence. Hercule Poirot became my buddy and the friendship is still going strong.
Even now, no matter how many new kinds of novels I read, very few have reached the levels of satisfaction Agatha’s novels have provided me. The way Agatha goes into the depths of human psychology and reasons out everything is simply enlightening. And whenever I read her novel it feel like I have been transported to a English countryside cottage, sitting in a cane chair in the veranda with tea by my side, in a mild breezy late afternoon, reading the book in complete peace.
Agatha Christie is a major part of my life. As you might know (from my Instagram) I have a whole shelf dedicated to her and am keen to add more to my collection. I love her so much that I even joked to my mum that I’ll take my Agatha collection with me to my grave.
From 2007 to 2018, my obsession with reading has only increased. You might even call it a disease, but it’s a good one. Now I have so many authors to go to. When I need a cozy yet deep mystery, I go to Agatha. When I need suspense with a touch of romance and a strong female character, I go to Sheldon. When I need an adrenaline rushing, edge-of-the-seat thriller, I go to Child. When I need a story that touches my heart and comes out as tears, I go to Archer. And the list goes on…
Reading has made me travel the world without even taking a step outside my room.
Reading has helped me make friends, both, in the books and outside in the real and internet world (Hi Instagram friends!).
Reading has made me be friends with authors and publishers, and has made me stay in direct contact with them.
Reading has helped me stay sane when all I wanted was to tear all the hair off my head.
Reading has made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me realize that I am not alone.
Reading has given me solace, a place to go, a state to be in.
Reading has now given me a career, Writing.
And now, I can’t imagine my life without stories, be it in the form of books or movies. Even when I have nothing, I know I have my stories.
So, yes, that’s how I became who I am – a reader, a dreamer, a human.