On World Book Day, this is my tribute to my lifelong companions.
The first book I ever remember reading (and re-reading over and over again) on my own, was a book called Gordon the Goat by Munro Leaf.
It was a simple story of a goat who followed the herd, got caught in a twister and decided not to follow the herd again.
Simple. Yet as a child, it fascinated me as day after day I leafed through the book over and over again. I didn’t go anywhere without the book. If we went out of town the book came with me. It was my constant companion on long train journeys. Just one book. That I’d read, turn over and read again.
Years later, my mother asked me why I read and re-read the book.
“Because I didn’t understand it!” I said.
What a revelation! Today I am not even sure why I said that. But something in the yellow book drew me to it. Gordon the Goat himself fascinated me. As a pretty confused creature with one slightly crooked horn, I feel as a child I could relate to his quirkiness. I could relate to the predictability in the book. I probably was fascinated with the fact that he got caught in a twister. So maybe the book appealed to my sense of adventure. And finally when all was done, Gordon came back to sanity and decided to lead a peaceful life grazing.
But more than anything Gordon the Goat gave me an undying relationship with books. It meant that a book could be a constant companion. A book could be a friend, a teacher, and an escape mechanism. And that relationship has not changed.
When my children were young, I not only gave them book, but read to them – always. (I will not mention painful bedtimes when I read The Little Mermaid or Goldilocks or Chicken Little for the 45th time) but books were the glue for our time spent together.
As they grew up they started picking up their own books and became avid readers themselves. Many a tenacious parent would ask me how I got my children to read. How did I manage to ‘force’ them to read?
“Force? “ I’d ask.
My answer was simple. “I read to them.And I read”
I believe the love of reading is something that we learn subconsciously from our parents by mimicking their behavior. And it’s something that one has to thank their parents for if they have cultivated it.
I still have this enduring relationship with books. The genres have changed from fairy tales to children’s fiction, PG Wodehouse and Agatha Christies, to bestsellers, to classics and English and American Literature, self-help, spiritual, management, healthcare and what have you!
I read some, like some, dislike some. Reread some again. I lose myself in books. Find myself in some books. Get involved. Can’t seem to get uninvolved with some. Own some. Give away some. Share some. Never ever share some. Always gift some. And also get them as prized gifts.
And the relationship has deepened and grown stronger. A relationship that has never let me down.
I could probably write a book on this! Couldn’t you?