The luckiest day of my life was somewhere around, when I was seven years old. My mother took me along to a general store, the kind you usually find hidden between the resident buildings, even more grateful I am to the customers that crowded the little store so much that I had to wait outside. I was patiently standing on the Verandah, hopping on my toes, trying to catch a glimpse of the fridge in which they kept chocolates when my gaze accidentally fell on the table that I was supporting myself with. That table was not standing there uselessly, It was used to display a bunch of magazines and comics. Luckily, the first one my eyes fell on was a children’s comic book named Magic Pot. I picked it up and browsed through the pages and it surprisingly kept my attention until my Mom returned. But anyhow, I was not ready to let it go so I made her buy it for me. The best thing about Magic Pot was I did not have to rely on my mother to read me stories for it had enough pictures in it for me to guess even if I did not understand the words. Apart from stories it had puzzles, fun games, new words, I stopped getting bored all of a sudden. I would finish my homework as soon as possible to get back to the book . My only misery was I used to complete the thin comic book within 3-4 days then I’d want another but the store did not have any so I’d to wait for the new edition to arrive.

Soon after, I switched to another children’s magazine named Champak (I know you’ve heard of it :P) this one kept me company for a longer time, as it was thicker, had longer stories, more number of stories and it was available in bulk. I did not have to wait for editions plus it came in both hindi and english versions which I devoured to the core. It also kept me company during train journeys, I remember reading all night long during the two and a half day journey to my motherland Kerela. I did not make many friends growing up, mostly because I did not feel the need for company and it turned out pretty good for me, the only friends I made, the ones I can count on fingers are still my best friends. Every best friend I have is my childhood friend, these are the people who I can count on any day. This is one of the benefits of reading according to me, it makes you clearly see through a person, it makes you a better decision maker. By the time I was eleven I had read a lot of such comics. At school, we had a last spare period when the teacher used to tell us stories and then would ask us to do to the same. Even when she ran out of a story, I did not. I always had a story with a moral lesson to tell. 

Books and Reading have helped me tremendously throughout my life, they always kept me company no matter what. When I was down they cheered me up, they lured my attention to some fantastical, magical place. They saved me from getting depressed by motivating me, telling me about the failures of people who made it big. They taught me tricks to maintain attention, focus and to create good habits. They introduced me to mighty personalities like Swami Vivekananda. Along with that, they taught me speaking and negotiating skills, money management and investing skills. They became my 24×7 partners. If I need something, be it knowledge of a particular topic, inspiration, or just mere companionship; they are the first thing I’d refer to. They also made me very skilled in understanding people for when you read so much  you become habituated and feel at ease to look at a situation from someone else’s perspective. When we read we basically open our minds to the author. If someone told me their opinion, I could quickly see it from their point of view and I could understand the very reason behind the same. Due to this, it became easier for me to connect with others, my friends often call me the “motivator” because according to them I give very inspiring speeches to pull someone out of their depressed state, but I transfer the whole credit to my mentors (Authors of some very good books) , who taught me how to think. I have always felt the need of a permanent mentor in my life for guidance, for I never had someone in human form to look up to. I learned from my own experiences and experiments but I always wished for a Shankaracharya or Chanakya in my life, fortunately they left their legacies behind. (Whenever, I am reading something written by such great personalities, I imagine that they themselves have come to teach me :P) I realize the childishness but it gives me some relief. I’d litrally give anything to have a great mentor who would guide me throughout life. I want to perfect myself , but I somehow just lack the guidance. Anyhow, Books have filled this void to a great extent.

Most of my friends during this time of age (early 20s) are battling with loneliness. They try to find the happiness in others that they can’t find within themselves. So they try to drink, go party, have fun, engage in causal relationships but at the end of day, they tell me, that the emptiness just come back to bite them. Some of them think that being in a relationship will solve the issues on the other side, people who are in a relationship are hugely dependent on their partners for inner peace. I don’t find a fault in having a romantic relationship with a person, the only fault I find in this concept is- You can’t be happy on your own then how can you keep someone else happy? How can you give something that you don’t have yourself? It’s like a hungry beggar promising you food ! As far as I have observed, such people depend so much on the other person that a day without talking upsets them. Would’t be a relationship much more fulfilling when people don’t cling on to each other? In his Video about mindful parenting, Swamiji clearly states that the “children must have the habit of reading. Readers don’t depend on someone else’s five minutes to make them happy and neither they get bored ” I found it so much sensible and relatable as well.

It’s been over 15 years of my relationship with my books and the spark is as same as it was 15 years ago.The most exciting thing for me to do is book shopping, and then eagerly waiting for their arrival. We never grow tired of each other, we always have time for each other. And it’s because of them that I don’t slip away in life, they keep me on track.  They keep me inspired, they are my most trusted advisors and my favorite me time buddies.  Most importantly they led me to our Swami. If you are not a reader yet, start now ! It’ll be the best thing happened to you I promise that. 

Here are some recommendations for the beginners :

Fantasy fiction- Harry Potter, Jurrasic Park (by best read of 2020)

Fiction- Kite Runner, The last Gambit

Mythological fiction- The palace of illusions, the forest of enchantments 

Non fiction- How to win friends and influence people, If truth be told, A fistful of wisdom, the 5 am club, the atomic habits, Om swami as we know him, the book of faith

Thriller- mysterious affair at styles, and then there were none, I know what you did last Wednesday.

For kids below 15 – Goosebumps (although I still enjoy it :P)

Still, If I had to share only one recommendation I would say Upanishads.  There is nothing more impactful than that

Sharing a glimpse of my hard copy collection here :

My greatest asset 2

My greatest asset 3 My greatest asset 4

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Ps- just for the record I am 5’4″ 😛 

My greatest asset 6

My greatest asset 7

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My greatest asset 13

Interactive books where you can make your own decision for adventure 😉

My greatest asset 14

I hope this was of some use :D, Happy New year, wish you have a great one! 😀

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Supriya Patnaik

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