Reading fiction is one of the paramount pleasures of life, in which the reader is transported to another land and time. This provides the much needed break from the normal order of things, and the monotony, frustration and anger associated with it. It also sharpens the reader’s mental acumen, broadens their outlook towards life, and allows them to virtually experience various vicarious adventures, not always possible in real life.
“A house without books is like a room without windows.”
Although I may not be the perfect illustration of a “life well spent”, I am indeed lucky to have cultivated the habit of reading since childhood, and have reaped its many benefits. This has helped me sail through the darkest hours of my life, and has added to the joys in happy times.
When I come across a book like Three Men in a Boat (by Jerome K. Jerome) or 1984 (by George Orwell), my happiness knows no bounds. Like the first rays of sunshine at dawn, or the countless stars glimmering on the horizon on a dry, cloudless night, such books fill the heart with utmost bliss and gratification. In the Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie talks about the travails of children born with magical qualities “at the stroke of the midnight hour” in newly independent India; and through Animal Farm, George Orwell writes a timeless satire on the vices of socialism-“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”. The eternally hilarious writings of the master of humour, Sir P.G. Wodehouse, are delightful, to say the very least. .
In the present times, various Indian authors have written some commendable pieces of fiction. The foremost example which comes to mind is the Meluha Trilogy by Amish Tripathi. The beauty of this narration lies in its refreshingly new outlook to the Indian mythology, and the depiction of various Gods and Goddesses as ordinary human beings achieving greatness through hard work and perseverance. Scientific and rational justifications attributed to various extraordinary events in the story add to its literary charm.
But then I come across books like She broke Up, I Didn’t!…I just kissed someone else! and realize that life is full of sorrows and miseries, and such works add to them. Though the rational part of the brain pleads to stay and fight against such atrocities on mankind, the other half beseeches to give up on earthly possessions, go to the Himalayas, and wait till the days of such novels have passed. I do not hold any personal grudges against such authors, but Five Point Someone and The 3 Mistakes of My Life have begotten many worthless offspring and now the time is ripe to let go of such novels. And imagine the horror of witnessing the Et tu, Brute moment when the stands witness freshly printed copies of Half Girlfriend, flowing into innocent people’s tables, bags and bedsides. It cannot be denied that this soft romance masala genre has given opportunity to various aspiring Indian authors to publish their books and become known for their prowess, but when the occasional plunge turns into a habit, both for the readers and the authors alike, it leaves much to be desired.
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