In the last couple of months I have turned into a voracious reader – all thanks to Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series. I loved reading as a kid, devouring 2-3 novels a week during the summer holidays, but the habit sort of fizzled out once I got into college and then into professional life. Not that reading was completely ruled out but now it was restricted to 4-5 novels a year and that too each novel took me a couple of months to read by which time I had forgotten half of the characters and their mortality rate.
I inherited His Dark Materials from my sister’s collection with the recommendation that these were novels that were integral to the neo-classical genre and a must read. This coming from my sister who rarely showcases her likes or dislikes piqued my curiosity and got me to start off on this. This brought back my old habits. Three books back to back were finished in no time and a regret that there were no more in the series to pursue.
My verdict of His Dark Materials series (Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass) – One of the best grown up fantasy adventures ever written. The contents of the books may be somewhat controversial to those who swear by organised religion and the diktats from above that bind them, but the subtle meaning in the books drive home the point that there’s more to life after all. No more metaphors or dragging reviews and giveaways. Just go read it.
Besides the His Dark Materials trilogy, I also had an unfinished Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy omnibus with me. This book that I picked up from Sankar’s at the Bangalore Airport in 2006 had been a stutter and stop read. I had just about made it to the last novel i.e. Mostly Harmless and the short story before it which was ‘Young Zaphod Plays it Safe’ when I stopped short of completing it about a year ago. The book was just lying there unfinished. After Dark Materials I made it a point to complete this at the expense of mundane news and TV serials.
I would say that my new found interest in books is due to the fact that there is hardly anything worthwhile paying on TV nowadays. Now that the reading bug has bitten me I don’t see it disappearing anytime soon. Right now, I am onto the complete and unabridged Sherlock Holmes series. This is another book that I picked up at a book sale in 2005 (I don’t remember the book seller). It included the adventures, memoirs, return of Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of Baskervilles all in one book with the original Sidney Paget illustrations. All this for Rs. 350. Quite a steal, but it lay unread on my table for sometime. Sherlock Homes was a hero to me as a kid and I had read some of the short stories that appeared randomly in assorted sets of books. Long forgotten, I turned to my complete Sherlock Holmes volume and I am now in the middle of it trying to figure out the Adventure of The Man with the Twisted Lip.
Thank god for literature. In the event of an electric storm we still have a lot to look forward to.