Reading Places and Times

Reading is a form of joy that none other. It can provide pleasure in so many ways that one cannot even imagine at times. With reading, memories are created. Hoards of them and sometimes way too many to remember. This post is one such attempt to chronicle memory related to books, the places they have been read at and positions that one has been comfortable reading them in. All readers would be able to relate to this one, because sometimes sense of time and place is so important to reading, that you cannot forget it in a lifetime.

I remember childhood most vividly. When reading was a luxury, away from studies. Away from the books that one did not have to look at till the next year or till the next term. When my parents would want me to sleep early and I was hiding under the covers with a book and a torch (done that as well). That is probably the first memory that is stuck with books.

Memories related and connected to books have always been special. Be it sitting alone in my room (which I had to share with one sibling) at fourteen when my nose was stuck in David Copperfield (at those times I wished I was an orphan, just to live that life) and my mind was elsewhere by then. Wuthering Heights was read for the first time at Worli Sea Face by sitting on a bench and listening to the sea murmur at intervals. There would have been no perfect setting for such a book. Maybe it was the sea and its memory that added to the charm of the book and to the reason of it being one of my favourite books of all-time.

Books have to be read in a special place and we all have them. It could be the corner of your room or it could be that special spot in the library. The point is that sometimes we can only read there. The place that brings us that required comfort with the book that is loved. I can never read without lying down on my stomach and the sufficient light that has to fall on the book, from a particular angle. That is much needed. The type of food one is used to eating with the book you read is also essential to the reader. Food goes best with reading. My reading food has to be a packet of chips with Diet Coke and of course care is taken before turning the page – a napkin on the side and the Coke can kept far away from the book.

I also remember the time I was at loggerheads with my family and spent hours in my college library reading. The British Library spot right next to the DVD section is most fondly remembered. Virginia Woolf was discovered in that phase – the existentialism narrative and linear thought flow was also discovered in the aisles of the library. Those memories don’t let go and shouldn’t as well.

The journeys undertaken have always been with books. Be it a train journey, on which I cannot sleep and a book is sufficient, as the train whizzes by and the reading process between sips of tea, purchased at a small station at two in the morning. A long flight journey. A bookstore in a foreign land and a café where everyone knows you and is ok with the fact that you order one Latte and read there for hours. The comfort of knowing that helps uninhibited reading.

Reading is as personal and solitary hobby that it can be. It breeds in solitude. It requires that space to allow flights of fancy. Reading does that to you. It creates memories, hundreds of them – of favourite books, of loved writers, of books re-read all the time, of spaces and places, of foods eaten and enjoyed and ultimately love for them, that carries on irrespective.

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