I received ‘Love among the bookshelves’ by Ruskin Bond as a part of the Flipkart Affiliate Programme and would like to thank Vivek of Flipkart for the sending me the book. The book is a journey of a man who falls in love with books, wants to become a writer when he grows up but when someone asks him what he wants to be when he grows up, fear of ridicule makes him say ‘detective’.
The book begins with an introduction wherein the author that this book is a memoir, written as a tribute to some of his favourite authors, whose books were already classics that he read when he was growing up. Having read everything that came his way while growing up and close to ten thousand books in his lifetime, he says that many books were unforgettable and have been forgotten. In the introduction, the author mentions that this ‘little book’ is about the books he read as a boy and as a young man- books that gave him enjoyment, books that banished loneliness or depression and books that inspired him to become a writer.
The book has been divided into five broad sections arranged chronologically from when the author is eight years old to his school vacations, school days, his one year in Jersey with his aunt and his two years in London. Each section is further divided into three parts, the first is a memoir of that phase of his life, the second about the particular book of the particular author he liked at that stage and a little about the author and what of the author influenced him the most and the last part is an excerpt from the book which gives a glimpse into the book. This is followed by a list of favourite books by his favorite authors.
He mentions about how he began to read books- at a rest house in a jungle, when he was eight and his parents went hunting and he declined to go with them. He roamed about the rest house, located a book shelf and started reading P.G Wodehouse’s ‘Love Among The Chickens’ and that got him to explore the bookshelf and its reading treasures. He mentions about various authors that he would read and also mentions that the choice of the author depended upon the genre he wanted to read. He talks about his school vacations when he would read books into the night in his own room with a leaking roof and the classics and comics he read on his holiday, his love for cinema and superheroes and how he moved from comics to the world of literature. He mentions about books that can be re-read.
Next, he mentions the school days at Bishop Cotton School in Simla when he found games boring, he would feign a cramp in his lower leg and go to the dormitory and read. Later when he was put in charge of the library, he would go there. And then he realized that reading was only a short step to writing. He also mentions how he would read in the dormitory when the lights were switched off and dream of various characters when he would drift off to sleep. He talks about his move to New Jersey or a year when he was never out of job and how the decisions he made there were to affect him. He mentions his love for comedy, and how books were his best friend there when he had no friends. Then he goes on to talk about two lonely years in London, where he was ill and ten started publishing before he returned to India. For him, Charles Dickens was, and always will be, the greatest novelist in English language.
The part when he mentions the school days in Simla actually is the best part of the book. Now I am looking out for a few books mentioned by the author in this ‘little book’ like Cakes and Ales by W. Somerset Maugham.
I loved this book. It was very interesting and very different from what I imagined it to be. The icing on the cake is the cover with the beautiful chair, the print and the binding.
Book Source: Review copy as a part of the Flipkart Affiliate Programme
Publisher: Penguin Viking