A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone if it is to keep its edge.- Tyrion Lannister, Book Series - ASOIAF

As Tyrion says, ‘Books are needed to keep minds sharp’, I had to follow his instructions being such a big fan. Keeping this aside, I would give the same advice to anyone who asks me ‘Why I read so much?’.

Actually, I had never read any book until 18 months back. It’s true. I have transitioned from a non-reader to an avid book reader. This transitioned started on that GREAT day [flashbacks to a year ago]. One day at my place, there was a get together of our family. Everyone was talking to each, sharing what was up with them since they met last time. I was also having a good time. Not because I love to socialize or be with other people, but because we got to eat delicious food that was made especially for that day. So I was busy concentrating on food and not talking to anyone in the room.

One of my uncles, Jayesh, asked me about what is up with me, what I have been doing, how’s life and all the same stuff. I answered him. Then he casually asks me whether I read any books apart from the curriculum of my education or not. To which I had to say no (with a bit of shame). I knew that everyone should read books and it’s good for brain, knowledge, life skills and blah blah blah. Basically, I knew that I should have been reading books but never started any because I never felt any use of it.

This did not end there. He started explaining to me why books are important, and the same stuff that I was scared of listening to. I listened to all his words ignorantly. As soon as I got a chance to get out of that room, I left and went to another room. Waiting for food to be served. That day ended, but this ‘Book Leitmotif’ didn’t.

After like 2-3 days, Jayesh Uncle sent 2 books to my home. A book named ‘What Young India Wants’ by Chetan Bhagat and another named ‘As the Crow Flies’ by Jeffery Archer. I was really still not convinced enough to give any of those books a try. I was not able to imagine any reason, why I would want to read any book? How reading a book like ‘What Young India Wants’ help me developed life skills, knowledge, and those stupid blah blahs? So I kept them on my shelf to rot there. That day ended, but this ‘Book Leitmotif’ didn’t.

One fine day, I was preparing to go to my college in the morning as usual. Nothing was changed on my part. Not even thinking about the books I had received like months ago. I had almost forgotten about them. But the Universe had different plans that day. My Mom like any other Indian Mom started cleaning the house, but today she decided to clean my shelf also. Still, that was not an issue because she used to clean it every 1-2 months. But this time, the shelf had this books kept there. She noticed the books and picked up the book written by Chetan Bhagat and put it into my bag. I still didn’t know about this until when I was about to leave my house, she told me that she has kept this book in my bag and I should try reading it because Jayesh Uncle has sent it. Not because reading a book is good for knowledge, brain and those shit things, but because Jayesh Uncle had sent this book, I had to read this. So again ignorantly, giving no importance to the book I left my home. That day ended, but this ‘BookLeitmotif’ didn’t.

Cut to another day. Again a normal mundane day. Nothing has changed. Going to college in the morning. On my commute to college, I have like 20 minutes of free time to do anything. Usually, I just sit and see outside the window of the train or just talk to my friends if any of them is with me or play a game on my mobile phone. But that fine day, I don’t know what I was thinking, I picked that book out and thought that I should just give it a try. According to what other’s say, I have nothing to loose if I read it. So I opened the book and started reading its Table of Contents.  The last entry had page number 106. I again started thinking that there is no use in reading any books this long, why did I even thought of reading it. I was not motivated to read it but still, I had like 16 minutes to reach my destination station. So I thought let’s read first ten pages least and then I will not continue from tomorrow. So I read the first chapter(3 pages) that day on my commute. After reading the first chapter, I was feeling not that different. I was expecting to become a more intelligent person, smarter, knowledgeable and more. But that didn’t happen. I was still the same Aditya, that I was 16 minutes ago. So went to my college and continued my life a usual. That day ended, but this ‘Book Leitmotif’ didn’t.

Again after some day, I had nothing to do on my commute. This time I didn’t think too much and picked out the book and started reading the next chapter. I completed that chapter before my reaching my destination station and went to my college again as usual. But today, I didn’t think about how the book is not making me any different but instead was thinking about the content of the chapter that I had just read. This went on for like a month and a half before I completed reading that whole book (did not read daily). Those days ended, but this ‘Book Leitmotif’ didn’t.

Again after some day, the same story I had nothing to do on my commute. This time, I didn’t have my book also. So now all I had was 20 minutes of free time to anything I want. But instead of wasting it, I started thinking about how the book changed me. That day, I realized that it did change the way I thought about Indian System, Indian Culture, the Government and more. I was not just a simple guy who didn’t know shit about Indian Culture and our traditions. I was a changed man, I had more knowledge about traditions, more knowledge about the happening of the country, more knowledge about the government system and much more. That day ended, but this ‘Book Leitmotif’ didn’t.

Next day, before leaving my house, I picked the second book written by Jeffery Archer. I started reading it on my commute. And eventually completed it within a month (till now I was reading almost daily but still slow). After completing this book, I again started thinking about how the book changed me. That day, I realize, that books do change people. Books CHANGES your PERSPECTIVE, INCREASES your KNOWLEDGE, SHARPENS your BRAIN, INCREASES you IMAGINATION POWER, IMPROVES your VOCABULARY, IMPROVES your LANGUAGE, HELPS to RELAX and finally ADDS new DIMENSIONS to your thinking. All this was happening instead of wasting time on my commute. Now I have become a regular book reader. After this, I continued reading various types of books. Whatever the type may be, according to me all books help you improve in some way or other. That day ended, but this ‘Book Leitmotif’ never will.

Books are a lifetime of experiences that author is writing into 300-400 pages. If you are able to get some one’s experiences of a lifetime in such a short time and at such a low cost, I can’t think of any reason, why you would not do it. I would like to end this article with the below quote which according to me, perfectly describes ‘How books affect our minds’.

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

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