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Archive for February 10th, 2010

Remembering My First “Big” Book

When did you read your first “novel” ??  When did you move on from reading colourful comics to boring, morose, monotonous pages of text?

I started on comics very early. Maybe around the age of 6-7 years. Those days , I used to read Richie-Rich, Archies, Tinkle, and ALL the Marvel super-heroes!! It helped that I had elder siblings who had already started reading comics much before me and we had a HUGE stock of books and comics lying around the house. It also helped that our parents made us get memberships from libraries and book-stores that rented books, at an early age.

I read my first illustrated book when I was 10. It was, “The Count Of Monte Cristo” pocket-book. Which also remains my all-time favourite book till date. These pocket books were very concise. Simple text on one side and a pictorial representation of the same text on the other. I so loved these books, that I had all the classics in pocket-book version. “Black Beauty”, “Little Women”, “Call of the Wild”, “20,000 leagues under the sea”, “Sherlock Holmes”, “Oliver Twist”, “Adventures of Hucklebury Finn”, I had them all.

Pre-teens was the time I was introduced to Nancy Drew. The MOST clever girl on this planet was my idol  :). “Hardy Boys” and ” The Three Investigators” came close, but not that much (Yay to Woman Power 😀 ).

Nancy Drew gave way to Agatha Christie , when I was 13-14.  Robin Cook, John Grisham, Michael Crichton followed naturally.

But my first BIG book, the biggest (literally) and most mature reading was, “A Suitable Boy”, by Vikram Seth, when I was 15 years old.

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

My friends couldn’t understand my fascination with carrying that FAT book around. While others were busy preparing for the Boards, I was busy finding out about the next guy in Lata’s life.

At 1349 pages (each almost as thin as carbon paper) the book weighed around a kg. My school bag bore the brunt of its weight till I finally managed to finish it and return it to the library. The book-marker was a plastic ruler (paper bookmarks were lost in its pages 🙂 ).

It was the first time, I realized what “narration” means. I found out the difference between “building a story” and “narrating a story”. Where “building” meant creating situations, scenarios, circumstances to keep the reader occupied, “narration” dealt with pondering on the current situation. Explaining all the little tid-bits of what happened, and why. I also realized how difficult it is to retain the reader’s interest through a narration. “A Suitable Boy” didn’t have much of a story. It was more like a collection of short stories, of different lives of different charcaters, and woven in a narrative style.

Less than half-way through the book, I realized what the end would be. But the narration held me captive enough to finish it and find out that I was right after all.

I reserve judgement on my opinion on the book. Go ahead and read it if you want to. I won’t review it here 🙂

The closest I’ve come to reading another “FAT” book (as my friends call it ) was “Shantaram”. At 944 pages, it was pretty hefty, but a good read nevertheless. Very interesting, though I have serious doubts as to its authenticity. Though the author claims all the incidents are true, I am not convinced. But it doesn’t matter. It was a good read and thats what matters 🙂

Shantaram

 So, what was the BIGGEST book you read??

And by that, I mean the one, you managed to finish 🙂

( And yeah, please count out those reference books for Maths and Science during 12th standard. They DONT count. They NEVER did!! Even if they were a zillion pages big and we managed to mug through it all!!! )

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