A Journey Into the Never Ending World of Books

A journey into the never-ending world of books

I stumbled upon books two decades ago at a leading bookstore on the Mount road, Chennai. My quest on books for competitive exams, instead, slowly started my journey into the unfathomable world of English literature. Having read only a handful of novels till then and introduced to hundreds of titles five years back while equipping myself with general knowledge for my professional courses interview, it was almost like my ending up in a dream world.

To me, book titles always held a charm. Like a solitary tree on a barren plain or an unforgettable melody. Seeing the titles that often lingered in my mind for the past five years in an unending array on the shelves slowly led me into a wonderland of different genres to amuse my different frames of mind.

A novel is a funny or dramatic world comfortably put between covers. A novel presents the reader (and more often than not the novelist too) a vicarious world, which he could not live in in practice. The world introduced to by a fine book would live in one’s memory for the rest of his or her life. No doubt, a good novel introduces one to characters that end up intimate, long-standing relationships with the reader than with their real life kindreds.

Shakespeare suggested through his ever-famous Juliet, ‘what is in a name? That which we will call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet’. But except the immortal writers whose works smell as sweet no matter whether they carry a title at all, which makes the confident publisher highlight the author’s name more than the title itself on the cover page, a book has to woo an occasional browser and spur his interest on it.

Book titles often narrate the stories themselves – like ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird,’ ‘East of Eden,’ ‘Gone With The Wind,’ ‘The Thorn Birds,’ ‘How Green Was My Valley’ etc., Some titles are enthusing inasmuch as to make the reader wonder at what makes ‘The House on the Strand’ unique or what mysteries are hidden in ‘The Shrouded Walls.’

The cover portraits also have their say. A vast landscape that arises the reader’s interest and imagination or a portrait of a character with a facial expression that speaks volumes encourages the browser’s interest on the book if the author is quite unknown.

Blurbs on back cover of books come in handy to selectors whether it is worth a while to give the book a try or not. But what if the publisher intends to over estimate his publication by a catchy recommendation? Nevertheless, books carrying laurels of prominent publishers and novelists will never let one down.

Like a good start that is imperative to a sprinter, a fine beginning would keep a writer in good stead. Who can forget Thomas Hardy’s description about farmer Oak in ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’ or for that matter the circumstances leading Philip to be known in the county as Pip, Charles Dickens central character in ‘The Great Expectations?’

Interestingly bookworms with an unquenchable thirst for the printed word identify each other while keenly surveying the corners of dusty bookshelves. Years back when I was cravingly flipping titles in a book shop, a foreign tourist identified my appetite for a good book and recommended me a bulky volume that famously starts as ‘The Small Boys Were Early for the Hanging.’ Ever since I completed the epic titled ‘The pillars of the earth’ that ran into a thousand plus pages, I have been longing for a sequel. Fortunately, Ken Folett fulfilled my yearning through his second volume ‘THe World Without End.’ A sequel by the author himself would do justice to the original masterpiece and it was proven once again.

Publishers could save weak hearts by appending the blurb with few words of caution. Rohinton Mistry’s ‘A Fine Balance’ gave me a traumatic night filled with nightmares after finishing it in a late night. I later recommend the book to a few friends with a due warning never to read the last few pages of the novel alone late into the night before calling it a day (or night).

As one attires different outfits for different occasions, books too are occasion-specific. To beat the boredom of either seeing the parched country landscape or having to get along with strange and loquacious co-passengers during a long train journey, thrillers plaited with anxiety and hair-raising adventures would be of great service. The tribe of authors who can make a journey fascinating goes endless with authors like Wilbur Smith, Dan Brown, John Grisham, Robin Cook, Frederick Forsyth, Robert Ludlum etc., While convalescing from an illness, a romantic hit with diverse genres ranging from the Elizabethan drama ‘Jane Eyre’ to the voluminous ‘The Far Pavilion’ will help one keep his cool. A Nora Roberts or Danielle Steel title would cheer up young minds during a recession and so on.

Though virtual online shops have come up today with an assortment of books, nothing can match the thrill of finding a long-craved title after hours of fumbling about crowded bookshelves in a store. The most thrilling moment in my life is finding a long-pursued book, mostly a single copy, humbly bedecking the corner of a shelf, unwanted by the busy shoppers. I cannot imagine of anything but books that sells like hot cakes without advertisement in today’s consumer market. For good books the word of mouth is more powerful than millions of rupees that might be required for a colorful promotion campaigning.

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