Monday, November 17, 2008

Reading and books - A tag

How old were you when you learned to read and who taught you?
I have no idea. Perhaps about three years old, or maybe four. Strangely, I remember my first English lesson in UKG - "Here is Raja. Here is Rani. Raja has a ball. Rani has a cat." Either my parents or my teachers must have taught me how to read. But the habit of reading? That's entirely different and was inculcated in me by my parents.

Did you own any books as a child? If so, what's the first one that you remember owning? If not, do you recall any of the first titles that you borrowed from the library?
I owned many books, so I cannot think back and pinpoint the first book I owned. Perhaps it was a cheery red big board book that had the Alphabets, Numbers and a few nursery rhymes. Or it could have been that picture book, with stories in pictures - how I loved it, and how many hours I have spent with my mom going through that book! It was one among the many Russian publication books that I had. There were many such Russian publication books back then - excellent quality at unbelievable prices.

What's the first book that you bought with your own money?
When you say "own" money, I guess it is the book I bought with a gift voucher that I received as a prize at school. It was a Gangaram's gift voucher, and we had been to their store on MG Road to pick up a book. I wanted to buy Famous Five, but those weren't books that my parents encouraged us to BUY. Borrow and read, sure, but they are not worth buying - they felt, and I always resented it. My mother had spotted the complete collection of Mark Twain, and was trying to persuade me to buy that, but I was least interested in it. Finally we reached an agreement - my parents would buy me the Famous Fives if I agreed to buy Mark Twain with the gift voucher. I didn't touch the Mark Twain for more than two years after that, after which my curiosity got the better of me, and I tried it out, and devoured everything at once. I love it. Even now, all these years later, I have no idea where those two Famous Fives have gone, but the Mark Twain is a treasured book! [Hmph! Parents are almost always right, aren't they?]

If I consider the first book I bought with my own salary, then it must be a book I bought at Mumbai, because that is where I started working. But I didn't need to buy books there because I was a member of a circulating library close to where I lived. So did I buy anything at all? I guess I did buy Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code - so that must be it.

Were you a re-reader as a child? If so, which book did you re-read most often?
I was a crazed re-reader. I would have entire books by heart. I don't remember any single book that I re-read most often - I re-read all the books I read. I don't re-read much now. I am painfully aware of the fact that there are too many books to read and too few years to do that in.. (and more books are always being written!) .. so I re-read very rarely. [Doesn't this paragraph read like a tongue-twister?]

What's the first adult book that captured your interest and how old were you when you read it?
What is an adult book, really? I read loads of classics that definitely were not classified as "children's books". But I guess I know what you mean, so I think the first adult book that I read was, coincidentally, the same as Shyam, from whose blog I picked this tag. The Final Diagnosis by Arthur Hailey. I don't know, I must have been around 16 at that time. I was fascinated. It introduced to me an entirely different world. Once the bug of this genre bit me, I was totally taken. I have never stopped since!

Are there children's books that you passed by as a child that you have learned to love as an adult? Which ones?
I guess that should be To Kill a Mockingbird.


Venkit said...

Late middle school and early high school were perhaps my best reading years. I still remember stories from the Amar Chitra Katha comics. Tintin and Asterix were special treats as they were very expensive and almost always never purchased outright. Champak and Tinkle were for the "timepass" crowd. Wisdom and Chandamama were more respectable as they had real information. With High school came the "Hardy boys" and "Alfred Hitchcock". We always lied about reading more of those than we actually did - it was the macho thing to do. The Girls had Enid Blyton which we thought was for sissies and never missed an opportunity to tease them about it.

And then came Television which was riveting then even though all we had was DD with terrible serials shot entirely in cheap cardboard indoor sets - with trees and cars painted on the cardboard for an outdoorish effect. Salma Sultana wept out the news and "Sorry for the interruption" was the longest program every day for years.

Then came Cable, followed by the Internet, followed by the Internet on Cable...and reading as a habit has all but disappeared.

Ah..I remember the good old days..but those were the same days when my dad used to reminiscence fondly about things like good handwriting and penmanship. Wonder what my kids would be nostalgic about...perhaps their good old days when the internet had speeds of only 20 MBPS...

Devaki said...

Re-reader - I can imagine! :D

Anu said...

Is "To Kill A Mockingbird" a children's book? It does look at the world through the eyes of a six year old but the book was written for adults, I think.

Ritu said...

I used to particularly love reading books which began their story with "Once Upon a Time" since I was little. Then I graduated to reading several other authors like Victoria Holt, Phillipa Carr, Ken Follet,Danielle Steel. My personal favorites are Rohinton Mistry, Anita Rau Badami, Manju Kapur's - Difficult Daughters (the rest were hopeless), Jaishree Mishra, Amulya Malladi & Sue Townsend.

Shyam said...

I knew you would be book-crazy like me - although probably curtailed a little b'cos of having to look after an adorable little girl now :) I had so MANY of those Russian books, too... they were dead cheap to buy.

I'm very glad you took up this tag. :)

snippetsnscribbles said...

hey Shruthi - I've made a mention of your book review in my recent post :)

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M S Raghunandan said...

i have company here. the first english adult book that i tried to read and did not make it to the end was 'good earth'.
i really do not remeber if there is any other first. but as an answer to the question the title that always jumps up is 'final diagnosis'. i did read it in one go, liked it and re read it too, may be another two times.

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