My parents have been avid readers. They tried to inculcate the same habit in me, but I never liked reading. They began by making me read newspapers, but that was something I detested the most.
Then they got me books. I could only read the first chapter, never beyond that, and books never got me hooked.
When I entered law school, every orientation session would talk about the importance of reading. “Reading is a must, you shall inculcate the pious habit to read,” they would say in those classes.
Hearing this I used to think that I made a mistake while choosing my career. If studying law requires a lot of reading, I was simply not up for it. However, I gradually started reading newspapers, and updating myself about society seemed interesting.
Around the same time, I went to an event with my friend. The event was very boring and uninformative, but I was keen to attend the last session, which was about trolling women, in relation to politics.
My friend promised me to give me a book on the topic, and on that promise, I agreed to escape the event. He gave me I Am a Troll: Inside the Secret World of the BJP’s Digital Army by Swati Chaturvedi. I read it in three to four days.
I realised that reading isn’t a task if I read what I love. I started picking books that I thought I would enjoy reading.
I read Divided by Partition, United by Resilience: 21 Inspirational Stories from 1947 by Mallika Ahluwalia, Kab Kategi Chaurasi (I Accuse…: The Anti-Sikh Violence of 1984) by Jarnail Singh, and many more. I learned something from each book I read.
So far, in 2019, I read around 20 books. Below are my learnings from each book.
I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education And Was Shot By The Taliban, By Malala Yousafzai With Christina Lamb.
The book is about Malala’s life, her family, her culture, and her cause. It tells us her story of being shot by the Taliban, and how even that didn’t deter her. This book is one of the best I’ve read. I was amazed by the courage that Malala displayed, as cited in the book.
The honesty with which she wrote the book made me fall for her. This book made me understand how important it is to be courageous in one’s life. She had been fighting for a cause irrespective of the threats she received, and then went on to become the youngest Nobel Prize laureate. I always think: If she can do it, why can’t I?
Unbreakable: An Autobiography, By M. C. Mary Kom.
Mary Kom shared her struggles, and what all she did to reach where she is today. It also has the part where she describes meeting Onler, her husband. If you feel that you know her story because you have watched her biopic, then you need to read this book.
Major changes have been made in the movie, which doesn’t express her struggles in full. This book also taught me the importance of the struggle to achieve something worthwhile in life.
The End Of India, By Khushwant Singh.
Three essays constitute this book which was written at a time when the author felt it was India’s end. However, these essays mirror the present political scenario too.
Khushwant Singh reminded me of the horrors of the Partition and the anti-Sikh riots. This book will open your eyes and teach you to be human. It helped me see things without biases.
Diary Of A Young Girl, By Anne Frank.
This was a diary that Anne Frank, a young girl, who, along with her family, hid inside her father’s office at the time of Nazi Germany, kept with her and made daily diary entries. Upon retrieval, this diary was turned into a book.
The book, for me, goes dry in between as it is a personal diary; but it had some really powerful lines. I loved this book because it tells so much about how Jewish people were treated, and the brutalities that they were subject to.
Turning Points: A Journey Through Challenges, By Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.
The book comprises of short stories that are a result of the author’s personal experiences. If you read this book, you will know how humble and generous Mr Kalam was.
Man’s Search For Meaning, By Viktor E. Frankl.
The book talks about how a human’s thinking can help them survive. It is about the hardships the author, along with other Jewish people, had to face at a Nazi concentration camp.
It is an amazing read that not only tells us about concentration camps but also covers human psychology and parts of philosophy too. Frankl introduces ‘Logotherapy’ for the first time in this book. This book taught me the power of human mind and positive thinking.
My Days In Prison, By Iftikhar Gilani.
This is a personal account of the author, a journalist with the Kashmir Times. He was picked up by police one night upon mere suspicion. Not only that, he describes, in this book, the time that he spent in jail, but linked life in jail and reactions of people with human psychology.
The book is not at all a sad story of a Kashmir journalist, of how he was discriminated against and all that. The way it has been written made me cry, laugh, and smile. This book helped me empathise with the prisoners, and gave me a glimpse to an inside story from jail.
Trial By Fire: The Tragic Tale Of The Uphaar Fire Tragedy, By Neelam and Shekhar Krishnamoorthy.
The Uphaar tragedy, that happened in 1997, and the legal battle that the authors fought, form the plot of this book. It tells us about the irreparable losses incurred due to the loopholes in our justice system.
I understood the importance of emergency equipment and learned how to use them after reading this book. I just can’t imagine what those innocent people, in the midst of the tragedy, must have been through. This book left me in tears.
Relationships (Bond or Bondage)/Emotion (The Juice of Life), By Sadhguru.
This book is philosophical. I liked it because I wanted to sort things in my life, and it helped me. The book taught me what is a respectful relation, the value of a relationship and how to deal with situations in a relationship when things are going haywire.
Ikigai: Giving Every Day Joy and Meaning, By Yukari Mitsuhashi.
Ikigai is a Japanese concept of leading a long and happy life. The book forces you to find your Ikigai. It comprises of what others’ – people described in this book – Ikigai was and how they found it.
I read this book when I was badly in need of finding the meaning of my life. Hence, I liked it. It helped me heal. I learned that living a meaningless life is disastrous.
Her and Him By Pierre Alex Jeanty; Femonomic: Women Invite Crime By Lovey Chaudhary.
These three books are a collection of poems. I loved both Him and Her. Him has poems that helped me understand a man better while I could thoroughly relate to the poems in Her, too, and both are well written. It was beyond my imagination to think of Her‘s author as a male.
I read Femonomic after reading Her, and the reason why I compared both of them. But I found that I didn’t like the former so much. It had only 2-3 powerful poems. All the three books, however, gave me strength and courage.
Mother Teresa: Great Women of India, By Renu Saran and Mother Teresa: The Untold Story, By Aroup Chatterjee.
The former is about absolutely positive things on Mother Teresa. It is a children’s book. It offers nothing new, and is not backed by sources as well. It gives information like a Wikipedia page does.
On the other hand, the latter is a critique. It talks about Mother Teresa being a ‘fraud’. The author backs each contention with authentic sources. Although, I didn’t like the writing style as the book starts to criticize Mother Teresa from the first chapter itself. It could not engage me as I knew what the author had to offer in subsequent chapters. I read parts of the book. This changed my reading style. However, I agree that this book presented an authentic critique of Mother Teresa’s life.
The Anatomy of Hate By Revati Laul.
This is the best book that I’ve read this year. The story revolves around 3 characters and their role in the Gujarat riots. As I liked reading both sides of the narrative, I found it was perfect for me. It’s not partial at all, in fact, it’s telling the truth as it is.
The book covers many themes, and it helped me understand how the machinery of hate works. It covered a part of human psychology too. The stories made me cry, and this book is certainly the one I would want each one of you to read.
The 4th Idiot By Dr Bishwaroop Roy Chowdhury.
The book presents the tricks and tips to make our lives better. This book is a must-read, especially for school-going students and teachers. It tells us various exercises that will help us improve our health and lifestyle. If one implements learnings of this book in one’s life, it’d be a great tool to transform oneself.
The Day I Stopped Drinking Milk, By Sudha Murthy.
This restored my belief in humanity. The first story, From Bombay To Bangalore, made me cry. This book is a compilation of short stories, mainly inspired from experiences of the author herself. The book taught me how to do good selflessly and be brave.
Why There Is No God By Armin Navabi.
Though I am a believer, but I like reading the other viewpoint too. This book presents arguments against religion. I liked some arguments, though I found others silly. I would have loved to read this book, but I lost it and could not finish reading it.
Now, I think, my journey as a reader has already started. Books are my first love and bookmarks are the second! I am addicted to reading. I understand now why, since childhood, I was told that books are one’s best friends. I will continue to read until the last breath of my life. I don’t like reading my law books. Even during my examination time, I did not stop reading. I don’t fear reading anymore, I rather enjoy it. These days I am reading
Do You Remember Kunan Poshpora?, By Essar Batool, Natasha Rather, Ifrah Butt, Munaza Rashid, Samreena Mushtaq and Why I Am A Hindu by Shashi Tharoor. To all those who haven’t fallen in love with reading yet, select the correct genre for yourself – know what you enjoy reading – and kickstart your reading journey.
Trust me, reading is the best habit that one can ever inculcate. Reading made me stronger and gave me strength. To all those who bought me books or gifted me one, thank you. No doubt that reading has made me a better person.