You Cannot Open a Book Without Learning Something

You Cannot Open a Book Without Learning Something

‘You cannot open a book without learning something’ Confucius said. I experience it whenever I read a book.

I kept a record of the books I read for a long time. Those were the days when I used to travel almost a hundred days in a year. Bookshops at the airports were my favourite ‘hunting grounds’ for new and classic books. I read mostly non-fiction.

Then came a time when I was not travelling much, and my reading was reduced to a handful books. But it is back again and with feverish pace.

I can’t really call it a feverish pace because my pace of reading English book is slow. If I read fifty pages in a day I feel like a cricketer hitting a century. But my pace of reading Marathi books is very fast, I touch a century often and can finish reading a 250 page, that generally is the volume, in two or three days.

The habit of buying books has undergone change with age. I used to buy any book which held my attention after flipping through a few pages at the airport book shops. Some book shop owners recognized this regular customer and would recommend a book to me. I used to buy those recommended books often, impulsive buyer that I am.

I now buy books based on the subject or author of my interest. It is difficult to say when I made the shift, but the result is visible on the excel sheet in which I record the books read in a year, and that too along with the year of publication and publisher.

And reviewing my ‘Books I Read In This Year’ list I realized that I often read books which were published long ago. I then made a determined shift to read the books published in that year or the previous one. This is not an inflexible rule, because there are many old classics which I have not read, and those are often recommended to me for reading. The point is that I have shifted to reading new books predominantly.

That takes us to reading ‘The Power of Regret’ by Dan Pink. I have blogged about it. An excellent book, it starts with something which a reader thinks is the obvious, and he builds on it well.

Another book which made a big mark was ‘You don’t know what war is.’ A twelve-year-old girl from Ukraine wrote her diary from the day Russia started bombing Ukraine. She moved out and is now settled in Ireland, and has longing for her home. The situation is unusual and so also the author who is a twelve-year-old girl. The production of this book is excellent, the title page is imaginatively done so also the interior. Kudos!

Two Marathi books also make the grade as the best books of the year in my view. ‘Bichhade Sabhi Bari Bari’ was authored by Bimal Mitra and translated in Marathi by Chandrakant Bhonjal. Bimal Mitra worked closely with Guru Dutt. This book focuses on the life and times of Guru Dutt who is an enigma to us. It is well written and the quality of translation is excellent; it is difficult to believe that it is a translated book.

Mrs. Mrudula Bhatkar’s Marathi book ‘He Sangayalach Hav’ (This Must Be Told) is the former eminent Mumbai High Court Judge’s way of exposing the horrible misdeeds of the political leaders who wish to teach a lesson to those who do not comply with their wishes. It nearly destroyed her family! Unfortunately, our Society has become insensitive to such expose. The former High Court judge has built her case with evidence but before the deaf and dumb jury!

Among the books published well before 2022, I picked up ‘The Choice’ with the subtitle ‘Even in Hell Hope Can Flower’. Dr. Edith Eger was a ballerina who was sent to the Auschwitz Camp which was the largest camp of death! Edith had to dance before a Nazi General much like Hema Malini in Sholay! But she and her sister survived! A must read!!

And yes, among the old books, ‘The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse’ takes the cake. You take about 15 minutes to read this book yet it makes a lasting impression. A great book which is also a must read.

Each book deepens our understanding of life. That’s the biggest gain.

And I will begin my reading in 2023 with the Marathi translation of Fractured Freedom by Kobad Ghandhi. This book was declared as the winner of the award of the Govt of Maharashtra for translation and then they withdrew it, creating quite a controversy! FB is full of it. Why? Because Kobad Ghandhi was reportedly a Naxalite.

Controversies make reading more enjoyable!

Vivek S Patwardhan

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”