‘Some books are to be tasted, others swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested,’ said Francis Bacon. Books play a different role in different lives. For most it is a way of passing time, while for others it may be a means of edifying. And, for few others it may be the means of atonement that spurs their emotional and psychological growth, a food for thought. For some it’s just for keeping. But there are few for whom books mean everything.
For people like the late critic M Krishnan Nair, books were his life blood. Readings sustained his very existence. Such was his passion for books that he would handle the precious tomes with care and tenderness. He wouldn’t touch one without washing his hands. His house were full of books that it bursted at the seams, with every room, including the kitchen stacked with them.
So, how do our prominent writers and critic view books? City Express asks a few writers and critics on how letters changed their world and altered their perspective towards society.
For writer Sarah Joseph, books helped mould her. “There is no moment in my life where I am not reading or writing. Books have been with me ever since I learned to read. It taught me values of life and developed my vision. It was through reading that I decided what life to live. I am sure that it will be the same for most writers,” says Sarah Joseph.
The renowned feminist writer says every book touches her in different ways.
“Reading Osho helps take life lightly. It pleases your sense while Nikos Kazantzakis deals with the depth of life and relationships. Whereas Gandhi or Buddha pampers the philosophical self in you, Marquez, M T Vasudevan Nair and Neruda take you to different degrees of emotional fulfillments,” says Sarah Joseph.
Writer K L Mohana Varma says books were his source of enjoyment and education all through his childhood.
“I was a curious child. Reading quenched my thirst for knowledge. It opened the world of dreams in me while helping me link reality and dreams,” says Mohana Varma reminiscing the good old days when his life revolved around libraries.
Varma adds that however great the writer be, he can read the work only if it turns him on. “For me, books are not pills that I should take whether I want it or not. If a writer doesn’t interest me, I can’t read him or her,” says Varma adding that books were always a passion for him and not a vocation.
Critic M K Sanu says it was through reading various books that he developed his skill in descriptive criticism. “Reading can create good writers. It was through extensive reading of the works of Tolstoy, Shakespeare and Keats that I became a critic. A litterateur should ideally be a good reader. Moreover, extensive reading has helped me broaden the horizons of morality and ethics,” says M K Sanu.
For younger writer Priya A S, reading created the writer in her. “I never played during my childhood. Books were my friends as I was always hospitalised. Writing was the only thing I could do in my life,” says Priya.
She adds that it was through reading that she earned the strength to face the crisis in her life. “Whenever I faced difficulties it was books that came to my aid. It showed me the light,” says Priya.