The ‘10 Book Challenge’ that has been doing the rounds around on Facebook recently has made me really happy. I found that there are so many people who read, even if it’s just a couple of books a year, and that some of these books stay with them for the rest of their lives. There are copious amounts of books that I have seen people citing as the greatest influences in their lives, each varying in genre, language, and literary tradition. It’s reassuring to discover that there are other bibliophiles like myself out there who have connected to a writer and their work across the boundaries of Time. So I’m not the only crazy one here, then; there are others, too.
One of my cousins commented on my 10 Book Challenge: “You can tell a lot about a person from the books they read.”
He’s right. This challenge has indeed turned into a window to the souls of the people we know; those we meet frequently, and those who we haven’t seen in years; those whom we have recently met and those whom we have known, intimately, for many, many years. I think that this challenge might have brought many book-lovers closer to each other, which is amazing.
I discovered a large number of writers that I’m either yet to read or will read them in near future through this challenge. For an aspiring writer like yours truly, seeing people love lesser-known books is the most encouraging and inspiring thing to happen. Indeed, it is the best thing to happen to me at this point in my writing career. At least I know that someone somewhere out there will be mad enough to understand what I’m trying to express through my writing. It is a great consolation to know that I will definitely be able to reach out to someone through my stories. What more could a writer want?
Things like this challenge never fail to sustain my faith in the power of reading and books. A happiness of the purest kind courses through my veins in such situations, for example, when I weave my way back and forth through the swarming multitudes at the Karachi Literature Festival, and the Karachi International Book Fair. The phrase, commonly seen on the Internet, ‘faith in humanity is/has been restored’ describes exactly how I feel when I see people who are simply delighted to be around books. Watching children running into the bookshop with gleeful grins, pleading their parents to buy them some books, and then walking out of the bookshop cradling their latest bookish purchases in their arms with the love and respect that a book must be always be given is the most joyful sight that I have ever seen.