Books and Memories

reading childhood

Books and reading formed a huge part of my childhood and for that I shall always be grateful. I had no clue then, that my stolen moments with this favourite hobby would one day offer me a second chance at a career.

To our extreme good fortune our father was friends with the owner of Universal , the biggest bookshop of the city back then. So we would get brand new books on loan, to be read and returned. I lost myself in those large glossy pages or the super glamorous pop-up books. I had one of Goldilocks that I haven’t been able to get over even now. Reading them once always left me wanting more. I didn’t want to let them go. I wanted to keep them with me forever.

Perhaps that’s where the itch to buy and own books was born.

Between our school and home lay the poshest market of the city with our dream bookstore. Hobby Corner. Nope, this wasn’t the one that belonged to our father’s friend but another one that sold books and then bought them back, at a small discount.

So some days (and I hope the children never ever read this bit) we’d sneak off the school bus mid-way, my sister and I, and we’d go to this book shop and indulge ourselves. Those days we didn’t have helpers in the bus to keep an eye on us so it must have been easier. Even so, this was a rare treat because we hardly ever had any money – even the two or three rupees that we would have had to pay up. Besides, there was also the issue of getting back home without the bus (for which we had a pass) and that also meant money for private transport. We managed it on some very lucky days and our parents never knew.

Long summer holidays were painful because with no access to the school library we were left bookless. Lending libraries were a dream in our city back then. Once we heard of one close by and I jumped and joined it only to find it was one of those that only stocked books on subjects like ‘meditation’ and ‘finding the true meaning of life’. I have nothing against all of that, but it most definitely wasn’t what my young teen self was looking for dreaming as it was of Heathcliff and Rhet Butler and the like.

I never did develop a taste for non-fiction.

In hindsight, I remain grateful for each of those childhood memories. Books and reading became that much more precious. Each time the Amazon delivery person knocks at my door even today, I get a happy thrill. While I constantly bemoan the lack of space in the house, I never want to part with my books, nor put them away in cartons, as the Husband once suggested. *Shudder*.

What are your earliest reading memories?

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Linking up with Amrita for #ThankfulThursdays.

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And also with  with Tina’s Mommynificent for the Booknificent Link-Up
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29 thoughts on “Books and Memories

  1. Lata Sunil

    Oh..you are so lucky to get the books from Universal. I wish I had something like that. My only solace was my parents would never say no to books even when it pinched them. I used to buy from local raddi-wala who stocked up on old books and we could return the book thus effectively, the book would cost only a rupee. We used to circulate this one book between friends, so it will go down to 25paise or so as I could read theirs too. Your writing is so good Tulika.

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    1. Obsessivemom Post author

      We did know how to make the most of what we had. 25 paise for a book is such great value for money. The raddiwala remains a useful place to find inexpensive reading material. When I was in Bombay I found many tiny shops where they segregate books from old newspapers and put them on sale at throwaway prices. I picked up some great reads from there. The thrill of cheap books remains even now :-).

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  2. Tarang Sinha

    Oh, such a feel-good post! And, very apt title. One cannot separate memories from books. I used to (secretly) read novels when I was very young (and was not allowed to).
    And, I also wait for my books that I have ordered from Amazon (or if I am expecting a review copy). My husband says, ‘you have this glint in your eyes when you see books.’ 🙂

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    1. Obsessivemom Post author

      Ha ha Tarang – the glint in the eye – I have it too.I also sneak-read books when I was young – Lady Chatterley’s Lover was the most scandalous of them all. I also found a whole lot of Pearl S Buck from aunt’s collection. She, as in Pearl Buck not my aunt 🙂 , wasn’t scandalous but a lot of her writing was beyond me back then because I was just too young to appreciate or understand the subtext.

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  3. Shailaja V

    I love books with every inch of my soul. So does the husband. So does Gy. We’re getting a huge bookshelf built. Soon. I hope.

    Your memories are so delightful. What a thrill it must have been to sneak off and find books back in the day. There’s this one hilarious memory I can’t forget. My cousin used to borrow books from this local library and never return them! Better yet, she’d write her own name on the books and lend them to her friends too! That chap either never tracked his own books or was too timid to ask my cousin about the missing books. In a few years he shut shop and moved on.

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    1. Obsessivemom Post author

      The library guy didn’t deserve them at all, I say. I absolute hate it of someone borrows my books and doesn’t bother to return them. I remember a friend borrowed one of mine and then got married. At her reception I kept wondering if it would be rude to ask her sister or someone if she’d kept the book for me somewhere. I never did get it back.

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  4. Kala Ravi

    Happy, happy memories Tulika! What we read in our growing years never fades, does it? As time flies by, I realize how true this is. I’ve read scores of books in the recent years but I can remember very few of them even if they were books I really loved. But books I read in my childhood and teens, remain etched forever! I could totally relate to your bookescapedes! And non-fiction, totally not my cup of tea!

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  5. Ramya

    My earliest reading memories is borrowing a book called Dream Trips from my cousin. I still.remwmber what the book was about, but cant seemnto remember anything about the author. I used to treasure this book and for some odd reason it used to be under my pillow every night. I never did return it back to her.

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  6. Healthwealthbridge by Dr.Amrita Basu

    I adore books .I can understand your joys at libraries.i used to haunt the two we had, around where we, lived in Kolkata.Even with ebooks the thrill of the real deal never goes away.I can imagine your horror at the carton suggestion.Just cannot imagine.Thank you for writing with us for #ThankfulThursdays

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  7. heartandsoul974

    Coincidentally I am working a post right now regarding my early years of reading! I was fortunate to have access to books from libraries in our town and at school and later my older brother would buy the classics for me. Thanks for this post, it was like I was ditching the bus with you…what a joy going to the book store. Happy days to you!

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    1. Obsessivemom Post author

      Glad you dropped by Mary. Isn’t it wonderful when older siblings pamper you? Looking forward to your post. Do tag me or leave a comment to let me know after you write it.

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  8. the bespectacled mother

    Stories like this one are what I like the most when it comes to personal stories. Father being friends with the owner of the biggest bookshop in the city – you were lucky for you could loan new books, buy and later sell them too for a small discount to keep the money flowing to and fro. It sounds wonderful.
    I used to live in the outskirts of the Mathura city, far away from the markets and my school was more farther away. There weren’t any book lovers or readers or book stores around me in my childhood or teens. I didn’t come across any of the big names of writers then but I read whatever I could lay my hands on – newspaper, champak, suman saurabh ( I subscribed to them via our newspaper agent), course text books of my brother and cousins. I would also spend my time reading comprehension passages in Competition Master and the likes of it. Everybody knew me as the Kitaabi keeda which was a sort of abusive language back in time.

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    1. Obsessivemom Post author

      That’s such a wonderful account Anamika. I read up comprehension passages too and stumbled upon many fantastic books thanks to those passages – To Sir With Love and Little Women are two that come to mind right away. I read the excerpts first and them got around to the books. Thanks for sharing your book memories.

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  9. Soumya (@soumyaprasad)

    Ah books, my true love! My earliest memory of reading is finding an old worn out Secret Seven book in my cousin’s closet and staying up all night to read it. I must have been six or seven then. Of-course I had read comics before, but this was my first exposure to actual reading.

    I have way too many books than I can count, but that is not going to stop me from buying more books. If my husband had asked me to put my books away in a carton, I would have put him away in one 😛

    Make happiness and books to you, Tulika!

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  10. sanchwrites

    Those are some lovely bookish memories there. Thanks for sharing them. I was fortunate my parents bought me books along with me borrowing from the school library. I was also very lucky that my uncle would buy me at least 6 to 8 books for my birthday from around when I was 11. I received the nickname ‘Bookworm’ by a teacher in primary school as my nose was always buried in a book while on the bus to and from school. Love those days.

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    1. Obsessivemom Post author

      Our school library was wonderful too. It was the holidays that were troublesome times. I remember my aunt asking us to choose between books or clothes and I always went for books. They were good days when we had the freedom and the time to lose ourselves in a book.

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  11. Mayuri Nidigallu

    Books in a carton? Would I be right in assuming that your Husband is not a reader?:))))
    It was delightful reading about your love for books, Tulika.
    Thank you for writing for #ThankfulThursdays.

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  12. Sheethalsusan

    We had an awesome librarian back in school who allowed us to sit in library and read when we bunked classes in the name of fests and exhibitions. Even when the school introduced “only one book for two weeks” she allowed us to takes books according to our phase. I’m forever grateful to her for my live for books. And one of my earliest memories was sneaking story books in between the texts during study hours in boarding and the times the nuns caught me. Lol!

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  13. Pingback: Bookish Meet & Greet – Usborne Books and More With Niki

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