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This post is an answer to a Facebook challenge given to me by a very good friend, R. She’s not given me any rules, just asked me to mention the ten books that made an impact in my life.

This challenge, is I guess the BookBucketChallenge that is gripping my home country. Luckily, R did not mention any rules, so I can just write about the books. Thank God, because I am one of those people who cannot part with my books. No, never. Buy, yes. Donate, Noooooo. I’ll donate my good clothes, money, time, energy, but not my books. I know. I am like that.

It’s great that people are donating books and trying to combat illiteracy and bring learning to all. I totally commend them and wish them all the very best. If I can help in other ways, sure, count me in. But please, kindly refrain from asking me to donate. (Isn’t it awful when we know that we cannot bring ourselves to do something? Even though we know it’s noble and we should and can do it? Makes us feel so horribly mean and weak, right?)

Anyway, I feel terrible already. SO, let me move on the list of books.

  1. Noddy by Enid Blyton– My first book that I read independently in school. I was so surprised that I could actually read and understand and enjoy a book all on my own and that too, a book that I had never read before with my mom. I just had to get home and pour this all out to her. Wisely, my mom did not mention that I had read books far more advanced than this or that I had read plenty of books before. And I still am soooo grateful that she did not ask me even once if I would now please stop my annoying habit of only staring at pictures instead of actually reading the words. (stubborn even then, I know) She just smiled at me, and asked me to tell me all about the experience. Thank you Mommy for allowing me to enjoy my Eureka moment.
  2. Naughtiest Girl In School by Enid Blyton – Ha! My first full length novel. This book I had been read aloud to, but the joy of reading it page by page, cover to cover, all by my very own self, was awesome. Also, later, discussing this full length book with my mom was one of my most shining, grown up moments. I was so ecstatic that we were discussing a book as equals, one reader to another. I still grin a goofy, overjoyed smile at the thought.
  3. Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton– I remember seeing my grandma read this. To this day, that image is etched in my mind. Dimma, (as I call her) wearing her usual cotton sari, sitting on the floor, back resting against the wall. Her feet are stretched straight before her, one dainty, anklet adorned foot over the other. Her posture is erect; only her face is inclined slightly toward her book. She holds the book in one hand, in front of her face, the other hand is poised to turn the next page. And her eyes race over the words, and she chuckles at certain points. Each time , she looks around, and smiles at everyone around her. I took away two important lessons when I saw that. One, you are never too old for a book. You might be too young, too tired or too opposed to a book, but never too old. Secondly, laugh unabashedly (unless you’re laughing at someone, in which case, stop already). Don’t hesitate to have fun.
  4. Mahabharata and Ramayana by C.Rajaji – This was a gift from Daddy dearest on our (I’m one of twins) eighth birthday. And what a lovely gift it was. Two of the greatest Indian epics, retold in a brilliant way. I love this particular version (tied in place with the Amar Chitra Katha version) because of the way Rajaji has written. These epics are stories about wars, crimes, revenge, bloodshed. But the writing is so beautiful and compelling, it makes me want to be good and noble and morally strong even in the face of hardship and temptation. These two books drill home the fact that there is always a nice way to say things, even if it is about harsh realities of life. Hmm. that came out quite heavy and high brow. Okay, on a lighter note. This book, despite being for children , has a language that is quite educational. On that ground alone, I’d gift it to Baby T. Not only is it an entertaining way to read the great Indian epics, but also amazing in the way it introduces better vocabulory. The joy of realizing that you understand big words; simply because the context makes it crystal clear, is wonderful. Examples- voracious, obeisance, marauders, ambidextrous.
  5. The Tuesday Club Murders – Ah, my first Agatha Christie. Need I say anything about the undisputed queen of crime and fiction? Nope. Poirot, Tommy and Tuppence, Miss Jane Marple, if these characters don’t mean anything to you, just go and read one.
  6. The Husband Hunters – My first Barbara Cartland. This book sparked a lifelong love of romance novels. Betty Neels, Jude Devereaux, Julia Quinn, Nora Roberts, I like them all because I started with Dame Cartland’s splendid book.
  7. Notes from a Big Country – Thank you Uncle N, for introducing me to the wit of Bill Bryson. There’s something to be said about discovering the hilarious in mundane, everyday objects and activities. Life is a lot better when we laugh and appreciate the humour and the beauty in little but important things of life.
  8. Daddy Long Legs – Yes, letters can be spell binding. We can make our unique, amazing selves come to life with mere words. Pity, schools do not teach these styles of letter writing. after reading this book, I conduct all my informal communication , such that people are in no doubt, that it’s annoying and charming old me, speaking to them through my letters and emails.
  9. Prisoner of Birth – I have always been a skeptic. Of everything. Especially remakes. retellings and remixes. But when I finished this book, I realized that sometimes remakes can be just as compelling as the original. This book has made me kinder and more enthusiastic of ‘interpretations’ and ‘inspirations’.
  10. The Happiness Project – This book about how to incorporate more happiness into our lives is really inspiring. Happy or not, all of us want more out of life. This book teaches us to do exactly that. Terrific book.
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