I belong to the generation when extra -curricular activities meant cricket, comics, ludo, hide and seek and some more cricket. The hobby classes were not in vogue and the parents were too busy in their daily humdrums to encourage their children to explore hobbies. My reading habit, like so many kids of my age, was limited to comics and sports page of the newspapers.
But when I started to prepare for MBA, I was made to realise that English is the most critical aspect if I have to crack CAT – the entrance exam for MBA courses. So out of compulsion I started reading. I remember when I was a beginner I was more interested in the storyline of the book. I use to read the back cover of the books to decide its worthiness. More sensational the words were on the back cover; higher were the chances of me picking the book. The first few stepping stones of my hobby were laid by the books of Sidney Sheldon and Harold Robbins. The present day beginners can have one more name in the list, Chetan Bhagat. Such books or the writers have a special place in the library because they provide the entry level read for so many novices.
The next phase of evolution was marked by desire of knowledge accumulation. I read very few fictions during this period and focussed more on management, philosophy, history and biographical books. In fact, I had this feeling in mind that reading fiction was a waste of time. Clearly, I had no favourites during this phase.
During and after my MBA I met many people who changed my perception about fictional books and helped me cultivate my reading habits. The opportunity to explore various authors at Crossword stores also helped. I never realized when I started to read a book for language and not for stories. I would pick up a book, randomly open a page and if I like the language and the delivery I would buy the book. I stopped reading back covers. And I had a list of favourites too. So much so, that now, I have become bit rigid and choosy. All I do now is read the books of the authors I love. And any new author would have to either qualify my random page test or be referred by someone whom I trust in picking books, and then only he/she will find a place in my library.
As always the current form of evolution in my habit seems to me like the final and the most civilized but I will not be surprised if I am proved wrong yet again.