Back in primary school, my teacher decided to inculcate the art of reading in us, and when she asked me what my favourite book was, I very innocently replied, “Macbeth.” (Yes, it was my favourite bedtime story! Witches, Royalty, and a forest that will walk? “Something wicked this way comes!”) The puzzled look on her face sparked a degree of pride in me, and most importantly, nurtured my book addiction.

Throughout the years, I have felt that every book I have read has awakened my senses (and sensibilities) in a profound way, and I have learnt something new from each of them. So here’s to all the authors who have contributed to who I am, and who have taught me invaluable lessons, aside from limitless knowledge and an improved vocabulary.

Life is full of surprises.
Ever marvelled at those twists and shocking jolts that books make us go through? There are moments when we are affronted, angry at the characters (or at the author!), incredulous at the unfolding of events, but deep down, we know that there is another surprise awaiting us. Anyone who has read ‘Gone Girl’ (and all those novels with cliff-hanger endings) will relate.

You can be whoever you want.
Whether you want to be quixotic, amaranthine, shrouded in mystery, or simply kind, it all happens in your mind. It’s our choices that define who we are and who we want to become (Thank you, J. K. Rowling).

Empathy
When the characters introspect and share their deepest feelings with us, how can we not step in their shoes? The plight of the twins in ‘The God of Small Things’, Harry Potter’s frustration, Margo’s search for her identity in ‘Paper Towns’… we become them, laugh with them, feel their deepest torments, and understand them better than we sometimes understand ourselves.

Be patient, be determined.
The best things do not always happen quickly. Some people have to struggle more than others, and there are days when life does seem like a battlefield. But in the end, everyone deserves a miracle. There’s always a way out as long as you believe there will be.

The art of expression
When you read so much, it might become daunting to distinguish between illusion and reality. You want to be part of the book (In your mind, you already are.) Then, there are those books written with rose petals and words wrenching at your soul, that would make you feel there are not enough emotions in the world to express:

“Our eyes meet and hold, and the world starts to fall away, time does, years rolling up like rugs, until everything that’s happened unhappens, and for a moment, it’s us again, more one than two.” (Jandy Nelson, ‘I’ll Give You The Sun’)

“What are the chances you’d ever meet someone like that? he wondered. Someone you could love forever, someone who would forever love you back? And what did you do when that person was born half a world away? The math seemed impossible.” (Rainbow Rowell, ‘Eleanor and Park’)

“Forgiving isn’t something you do for someone else. It’s something you do for yourself. It’s saying, ‘You’re not important enough to have a stranglehold on me.’ It’s saying, ‘You don’t get to trap me in the past. I am worthy of a future.” (Jodi Picoult, ‘The Storyteller’)

And a million more we could quote…

Celebrating our differences: Be curious, not judgmental.
Above all, the greatest thing that books have taught me is not to judge others. Everybody has his/her own journey, different dreams and aspirations, and everybody has something to teach us. Who are we to judge others? What power do we have? Why should we, would we judge others just because they are not exactly like we expected them to be?

This is what books teach us… they make us delve into self-reflection, accept and respect people with their follies and foibles, and cheer with them generously when they make amends.

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