The Joy of Reading

I notice that my food or travel blogs are going much better than this one - maybe I have fewer opinions than I thought?

Anyway, today I thought I'd write about books and reading. I truly believe that reading is a gift and I feel sorry for people who never discover the joys of reading - there's just so much they are missing out on. My favourite activity is to curl up with a good book and a mug of tea. Mind you, the definition of a good book is pretty elastic, and I have been known to curl up with a cup of tea and the back of a cereal box for lack of anything else to read. I love shopping for books too - bookshops are magical because they carry so many hidden worlds inside them, and then you look at the back blurb and flick through the pages of each one that you consider, wondering which one you're most likely to feel at home in...

I love going into second hand bookstores – almost more than first hand ones, because there’s such a feeling of discovery over the process of shopping there. Many of them aren’t particularly well-organized and there’s the deliciously musty smell of old books, and one could always find hidden treasures. When we lived in France, there was a secondhand bookshop which sold English books, and I discovered a whole heap of old, paperback murder mystery books written in the 1920s and 30s. I picked them up because of my interest in the genre but later realized that they are worth a lot more than the 2-3 francs I paid for each of them, because they’re from the Golden Age of detective fiction and many are out of print. So I have a new reason to hang on to them ( as if I’d ever get rid of them)!

I have pretty eclectic taste - I love...fantasy adventure, chicklit, children's classics, murder mysteries, historical biographical fiction, biographies, travel books, cookbooks, books about food, some bestseller types, the Girl's own genre...and I usually have two-three books going on at any time, all from different genres. I feel it’s important to have the right atmosphere for reading – though frankly I can read anywhere anytime. I have been known to forego sleep in favour of reading – even a book I have read and loved many times. For thrillers I prefer a rainy day and a dimly lit room. Chicklit is best curled up in my bed. For long books, I prefer train journeys. I used to love going down south all by myself by train. I’d stock up on 2-3 really big, fat books which I had been wanting to read, buy a stash of snacks and hop into the top bunk, alternately sleeping and reading for two whole days.

It's Friday now and I'm looking forward to the weekend, to lots of reading on our terrace. It's rainy weather in Delhi and our terrace garden is doing really well - all the plants look like they're bursting with life and are shooting out in every direction. I always prefer slightly overgrown, wild looking gardens to the painfully manicured ones - there's such a sense of discovery. One of my favourite books as a child was The Secret Garden, and I loved it for the title as much as for the story. For ever after, in my school grounds - and we had extensive grounds, with shrubs and trees all over - I and my friends used to create these little secret bits of garden, behind a particularly overgrown shrub, and pray that adventure would land in our laps. Our terrace garden looks just that bit overgrown to the point that it feels like it's going back to the wild and I'm planning on savouring that atmosphere over a good thriller and a cup of tea or two...

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