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I’d Rather Read- Your Favourite Authors on their Favourite Books

I’d Rather Read- Your Favourite Authors on their Favourite Books (Red Turtle, Rupa) takes you down the memory lane. The books runs you through the childhoods of some known writers and famous personalities. What did they like to read? How did they develop as readers? What was it that introduced them to the literary life? Which books left an indelible impression on their minds? Known personalities such as APJ Abdul Kalam, Sudha Murthy and more, write about their tryst with books and reading. 

There are some really heart-warming tales herein that are sure to strike a chord in your heart! Sudha Murthy writes of a simple exchange with her grandfather. This imprinted on her young mind the wealth that books have to offer. This truly makes for an inspirational tale. APJ Abdul Kalam’s write-up shows the immense potential that books have to light the flame of knowledge. 

When the writers of the chapters in the book were children themselves, life was very different. Obviously, you remove social media and internet from the vacation period, and you’ll see a completely different picture. It is fascinating to read about how they spent their vacations and their free time. How they sourced books from relatives, old collections, a stray book fair and what not! There were book tents for sourcing books. Russian literature was popular because of India’s close ties with the Soviet Union. Enid Blyton dominated the childhood scene!

I chuckle to read that there was a time when we snuck books into class. Or put a slim volume in a thicker textbook to study while reading. I relived a childhood filled with books when I read these accounts of all these people and their reading adventures. Of course, when we talk to fellow readers we also discover new writers who we may have not heard of. I also realized that I shared similar nightmares with other readers- such as being stranded without anything to read! 

“Do you have any Enid Blyton’s” by author Roopa Pai defended Enid Blyton in today’s times. And, I felt thankful for that! It was amusing to read how Jash Sen actually called his parents to come back home from a party. The reason? He was scared crazy after reading Agatha Christie’s “And then there were none”! Tanu Shree Singh’s habit of taking in the fragrance of books seems so familiar! 

The essays also show just how much books can influence and mould young minds, and how far-reaching their impact is. If you are a voracious reader you may just relive your reading journey. The excitement of discovering a new book, the power of a book to entertain you and completely absorb you as the hours slide by; the magic of touching a page; the beauty of smelling the pages; the desperation for a new read…or a reading ‘fix’…. it’s all in there amongst these accounts. 

What I also realized was how adults can really influence the reading habits of children. Most of the essays in the book described houses filled with books. Many of these readers had memories of adults reading to them. The memory of being on the lap of a parent, close relative, sibling or grandparent and being read to…the warmth and the love associated with these somehow seeps into a love for books as well. This left a deep imprint on the minds of these children, who of course, are the adults who have written this account. 

On reading this book, as a voracious reader, I felt it said all that I had ever felt and experienced about books. It reaffirmed my faith in the power of books. I’d Rather Read is apparently meant for the tween and the YA age group. But, like with all good writing, I believe it transcends all barriers, and especially that of age. This is a book that every booklover and reader worth his or her salt, MUST possess!

Dhanishta Shah

Dhanishta is a Counselling Psychologist and a freelance writer. She is the Founder of Bookedforlife.