Books and Me
“The masses never revolt of their own accord, and they never revolt merely because they are oppressed. Indeed, so long as they are not permitted to have standards of comparison, they never even become aware that they are oppressed.” - George Orwell
It sent a chill down my spine when I read this because of how true it is. I remember reading this and realizing that I needed a minute to steady myself. In other words, people would not fight for freedom if freedom as a concept did not exist. There is no other book which shows how strong an influence language has than the classic,1984. The concept it showcases were ones I had never thought about before I read this book.
Another instance: Every time Hassan tells Ali, “For you a thousand times over,” how many of us can hold back the tears? Khaled Hosseini uses the power of books and his powerful, albeit heart-wrenching imagination to convey the struggles of people living in Afghanistan.
This is the reason why I love reading: because of the way it makes me feel. The way it pulls at my heart, the way it opens my mind to new ideas. The way it challenges my pre-existing notions and helps me weigh ideas on both sides of the scale.
Very recently I read Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day and it reminded me why I like fiction. Because even if I picked up the book for 20 minutes, in those twenty minutes I was in a car driving through Salisbury listening to a butler reminisce about his work, talk about why he loves it and how he strives to be better everyday. That’s the beauty of reading, it’s like having a long conversation with someone you would never be able to meet. When I read Plato’s Apology, I was transported to 400 BC Greece; one among a throng of people listening to the father of Western Philosophy defending his revolutionary ideas. How cool is that!
Then there are books that raise issues related to social stigma and societal oppression. They make you realize that not a lot of people talk about it but it’s something that is in dire need of discussion. Chanel Miller’s Know My Name is one such read of how just a couple hours can change a person’s entire life, and how powerful, respectful organizations failed to support her because they do not have any protocol to follow in such situations. This book along with Invisible Women (a book that highlights that half the population was not considered when building the civilization) made me want to be mindful of everyone’s issues and create a better workspace for people once I am in the power to make that change. There’s Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, where I saw people somehow find purpose in a hopeless situation and it made me question my life. Empathy is a very powerful tool which is not given the credit it’s due.
No article of mine on books would be over without me bringing up the autobiography, ShoeDog.
I was in business school when I read ShoeDog. I couldn’t have found a better time to read a book as aspirational. It felt like listening to your neighborhood uncle talk about how he set up his business, remembering all his highs and lows and harboring only one regret: that he cannot do it all over again. It made me think about where my passion lies.
“If you’re failing, fail fast.” - Phil Knight
That’s the beauty of autobiographies, it makes you want to get up and do something great, be something great. It’s devoid of the glamour you see surrounding the person and it really strips down to their essence, their struggles. It makes you realize that Phil Knight became ‘The Phil Knight’ after 30 years of struggle. Autobiographies make the inspirational people aspirational.
From being a medium of getaway on boring afternoons after school to being a medium of opening up my mind, I have had the healthiest friendship with books. Due to the world of literature I have learnt new things, made new friends, seen the world a little differently than just through my own eyes.
And that’s why I am in love with books.
How I fell in love, is a story for a different time!