Category Archives: Re-reading

Chai and a book with a dash of nostalgia #WordsMatter

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It’s a wet wet day but I’m not complaining. I like this respite from the sun. Besides, when it rains, the balcony beckons, the tea tastes better and a book looks ever more inviting. Giving in to temptation, I drag out a bean bag, grab a cup of tea and pick up a book from my nightstand resolutely pushing away thoughts of unmade beds and messy rooms. Just this once, just one hour I promise myself as I settle down for a read.

‘What are you reading?’ did you ask? Here take a look.

Yeah, I recently started re-reading Gone with the Wind as part of a buddy-read.

I pick it up now running a hand over the plastic cover that has turned translucent with age. I imagine myself covering it lovingly, possessively (and numbering it too). It has been a long time since this book came to me, and I mean a really really long time.

As I open it to the first page I find a simple inscription from my aunt.

My aunt marked it is as a gift for my birthday even though it was some six months later.

Reading those well-loved lines brings a smile and a deluge of happy memories. Despite the rain around me it transports me to long hot summer days, of noisy coolers that blasted air along with occasional drops of water and the delicious smell of khus khus, and noisier cousins who played, fought, chatted all day.

Each vacation my aunt would come visiting along with my cousins. Before she left she would get us a gift. Each time she would ask, ‘Do you want a dress or a book?’. Each time, without fail, I’d say, ‘a book’.  And off we’d go to browse and buy.

Books were precious treasures back then. We read a lot yet owned a few unlike now when parents start building a library even before their child is born.

Gone with the Wind was the most expensive book I’d ever wanted. Our budget used to be somewhere around Rs 50 but this came at 60. I well remember standing in the bookstore staring at it, knowing it was beyond reach, too embarrassed to tell my aunt just how badly I wanted it, yet unable to tear myself away from it. And so I stood there, desperately wanting to wish away those ten rupees standing between me and my happiness.

I am not even sure my aunt noticed my dilemma. All she said was, ‘You want it? Okay.’ And just like that, in a heartbeat, the book was mine. I cannot even begin to describe what that meant to me. Not only did I get to read the book but I also got to own it! I went through it at breakneck speed, sitting up late into the nights. I strutted about school for days magnanimously lending it to everyone who asked for it.

As I leaf through the yellowed pages now, I notice a few are coming loose from the binding, some evil silverfish have dug in fine holes too. And yet, each page is more precious than the freshest, crispest, whitest pages I will find in any new edition. So no, I won’t be ordering a new one. I’ll sit down with tape and put the pages together, I’ll leave it out in the sun to get rid of the silverfish and I’ll read it multiple times. I’ll preserve it for as long as I can because, more than a book, it’s a cherished memory.

Do you have a book that evokes a special memory for you? A person who was instrumental in igniting a love for stories?

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I am participating in the #wordsmatter bloghop. I received this tag from teacher and writer Jyotsna Prabhakar who blogs at  Jonaatbest. I’m passing on the tag to the very artistic, very humorous Rajlakshmi at Destiny’s Child. Do follow the #WordsMatter Blog Hop for some interesting reads.

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7 reasons to re-read books

The other day I planned to organise my bookshelf. As I started pulling out books it was like opening a box of memories. I found some I’d bought way back in college, some had been gifted to me, I remembered reading some on the 26-hour train journey when I was working in Bombay. And I found myself flipping pages, reading paragraphs and re-living the books. Time flew and of course the cupboard never did get organised.

reading

When we were kids it was perhaps born out of necessity when we had too few books and too much time. Or maybe children just do not get easily bored. However, the habit stuck on through adult-hood purely for the pleasure of it. It’s fun to revsit books not just for the memories they evoke but also for the books themselves, for the way we perceive them, understand them and enjoy them.

Here are my top 7 reasons for re-reading a book.

1. It’s like meeting an old friend

You’ve read the book. You know the good parts, the heartbreaks, the funny bits.I mean, you cannot be a Harry Potter fan and just read it once, can you? You want to meet him again and again. Like him, there are many more delightful characters you can meet only between the pages of your favourite books.

2. You get new insights

Some books need to be re-read to be fully appreciated. If you’ve been reading since when you were a child like me, you probably got to some before you could fully appreciate them. I enjoyed some books like Animal Farm, Fountainhead, To Kill a Mockingbird, Brave New World or even popular classics like Wuthering Heights much more when I read them the second or third time. As you grow and mature you enjoy the book in new ways.

3. You can open a random page and begin reading

Have a few moments between tasks? Want to pick up something entertaining while you have your cup of tea – something that wouldn’t demand much attention yet entertain you? Well a re-read is just perfect. Like TV addicts flip channels you can flip through a well-loved read. I can open and enjoy books like Bridget Jones Diary or a PG Wodehouse just about anywhere anytime.

4. You can skip the boring bits

Great isn’t it? Those lengthy explanations or descriptions – you can just skip them and get on with it.

5. Your brain isn’t clouded by ‘what happens next’ 

So you’re free to explore the book at leisure. You have the luxury of lingering over passages, enjoying the descriptions and appreciating the language. When I was reading My Family and Other Animals – I loved the bits about the ‘family’ and rushed through the bits about ‘Other Animals’. When I re-read it I found myself pausing at them – some of them had me in splits, some amazed and wowed me.
I have to add though, that frenzied reading to the finish has it’s own thrill.

6. Saves money

Well, obviously.

And lastly..

7. You might end up cleaning your book-shelf

With all this picking up and putting back books, you just might end up with an organised book cupboard. No guarantees there, though.

Do you like to re-read books? Which is your favourite one to pick-up?