I do not remember a time when I was not addicted to books and reading. Like most Indians of my generation and social strata, I was brought up on a staple of Enid Blyton, and the Five Find Outers were more real to me than many of my real life friends were. Then came the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys phase, which was soon replaced by the Issac Asimov phase.
I was lucky in that I never had anyone guiding my reading, and parents who were more than happy to subsidise my reading addiction, so I read pretty much what I wanted to read, and had a great time doing so. Which makes it very difficult for me to pin-point the books that really changed my life.
My sense of ethics and honour was moulded by my parents and maternal grandparents, and reinforced by Enid Blyton and individual teachers in school. Who was responsible for what, I really cannot tell- all I can say is that between them, they created a person I am happy to call my best friend.
It was only when I went to high school and college that I started consciously taking direction from books. There were three that really shaped my thinking -
Space by James Michener, for making me realise that a life well lived is one where at every point in time you feel things cannot get better - I am living such a life!
Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, for constantly reminding me never to let go my childlike sense of wonder, and for taking pleasure in the really small things
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, for teaching me not to be judgemental and for trying to see things from the viewpoint of the other person
I was lucky I could fuel my addiction to books. My children are lucky that they have parents and grandparents who give them books. But everyone is not as lucky. There are so many kids in world who have never owned a book, and are not likely to own one either. Can anything be worse?
BlogHer and BookRenter have joined forces, and from May 3-28, are working to make a difference in children's lives by generating new books for children who need them most -- via the nonprofit organization First Book.
For every person who leaves a comment here answering the question, What book has had the greatest impact on your life?, they will donate one book to a child in need. If you blog about the contest and link to the site, an additional book would be donated.
I know we are near the end of the contest, but I know how much each of you owns to books, and how you would all like to make a difference in the life of a child. Please do.