My love for the written word

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This is how my passion found me.

There used to be a commonly used word: Bookworm. It referred to those who loved books and spent endless hours reading them.

Nowadays there’s a slightly kinder form of the word: Bibliophile. A person who loves to read, admire and collect books, often amassing a large collection.

For most of my childhood, I was a bookworm. I still call myself that - for good reason. Much like the fabled wood-boring beetle that was known to reside within the pages of books and devour them, I practically swallowed volumes and chapters of anything written – books, magazines, textbooks, comic books, you have it.

Thankfully, the sole bookworm that exists today is the human type, but you get the similarity.

To this day, I love the feel and the smell of a book. Occasionally, I resort to reading online, more for lack of finding the hard copy at the library or bookstore. For me, nothing can match the magical smell of books. Try getting a whiff of a Kindle or an iPad… it simply isn’t the same! That scent is called Bibliosmia, and if anyone ever bottled it, I’d be first in line to buy it!

For me it began as a child, in a country where commodities were scarce. Oddly, that phenomenon did not apply to books, which were easily obtainable. My father, a gentleman scholar, instilled in his kids the love of learning through reading. From a young age, the moment I saw, or laid my hands on any reading material, it brought an adrenaline rush, much like the kind adventurous people get when contemplating a zipline.

Our weekly visits to the “big” library were high points in an otherwise humdrum week. Everything about the visit – holding my father’s hand while walking to the nearby library, or piling into the car for the distant one, having my own library card, sitting in the various sections for hours, poring over books on various topics, signing some out, then going home and meticulously reading them from cover to cover – was exhilarating! By 12, I had read the major classics, then barreled my way into various genres, fiction and non-fiction, poetry, drama, comics. By 14, I was immersed in romance, literary fiction and mystery novels. Later I lapped up historical literature, biographies, drama. On it went and has never stopped.

I fondly remember walking home from school daily with my little brother. We had a mandatory stop at the bookshop next to our school. A major attraction - it was one of the few air-conditioned and well-lit spaces around. On a sweltering day, a heavenly rush of cold air welcomed you as you opened the door. But the best part of that store was the heady smell of printed paper. The gentle bookshop owner never minded us sitting quietly at the side, our noses right into some book or the other. “Right on time!”, he would say, as we barged in. And, half an hour later, “Off you go now, it’s teatime at home”. A kind man who helped to further cultivate my love of reading.

I’ve been fortunate that, at turning points in my life, I had wise people to advise me to reflect on what I loved to do when I was a child, to help me identify what areas I wanted to focus on moving forward. Pondering that was frankly, a most enjoyable process. Many things became clear to me, and over the years I’ve doggedly pursued everything I loved as a child, even though oftentimes life took over.

Indeed, reading is an erudite pastime. For us bookworms - what would we do if we did not have books?

It’s great to discover and indulge in your passion!

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