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Sunday, 1 January 2017

Books that change our lives

Good Morning and Happy New Year! I want to begin 2017 by talking about something that gives me immense joy; reading. My uncle gifted me a copy of Pride and prejudice by Jane Austen on my eleventh birthday and that day and that book changed my life.

 In the movie You've got Mail, one of the characters talks about reading habits by saying that one of 20th century's most profound truths was "you are what you read"and then Meg Ryan's character summed it all up with this gem  “When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.” Truer words were never spoken. Pride and Prejudice and later, Jane Austen played a major part in shaping my identity, I can still recall the crisp paper and that unique smell that accompanies brand new paper. From the moment I opened the page and read the memorable opening lines I was pulled into a world of genteel late Georgian/ Regency society; where an independent and intelligent women had only selected avenues to lead her life. I confess now, that first reading didn't really open before my eyes the complex layers of the characterizations and situations in the novel, in fact it is only now that I am beginning to fully comprehend the subtext. But I do so cherish that first time reading. I was captivated and couldn't put the book down. I loved it and couldn't stop thinking about the story. 

For a long time I even slept with my battered and worn copy under my pillow. If you ask me the reason behind that odd quirk now, I really couldn't answer why. I just did!I was proud that I had read such a 'grown-up' book and made certain to boast about my accomplishment in front of everyone, needless to say I did not end up endearing many.

 Reading Pride and Prejudice gave me the confidence to read further and opened up a whole new world of classics, I devoured Jane Austen and then moved on to Charles Dickens whom I adored, Anthony Trollope, the Brontes, W.M Thackeray, Elizabeth Gaskell, Walter Scott and many others followed in quick succession. I loved them all. For me Pride and Prejudice opened up the world of reading and literature, and I am indebted to Jane Austen for playing a major role in forming my healthy reading habit.

So yes, to paraphrase Meg Ryan 'I certainly am what I read due to the fact that reading Pride and Prejudice at the tender age of eleven made a love for classics an eternal part of my identity as an adult'; it was most certainly a book that changed my life.