Hmm... interesting question indeed!
Why? Well, let me begin by answering 'what'. As far as memory allows me to stretch it, I remember flicking through Archie's comics even before I could read words. Those vivid colourful pages were a bonus to V's animated laughter. I loved the goofy expressions on the characters' faces; they made me laugh. I guess, my eyes read pictures before they read words. Slowly as schooling progressed and improved my reading ability, I graduated to reading the comic instead of simply enjoying the scenes.
Champak, Tinkle, Chandamama, Panchatantra, Amar Chitra Katha, Chacha Choudhary, Billo, Pinky followed soon after. School library and friends who dared to smuggle story books in bag packs were the sources. I read these books until mid-teens. I was not yet ready for anything colourless and devoid of pictures. Soon as I subscribed to a nearby library, my reading horizon began widening. Nancy Drew became my first best friend, which was immediately followed by Famous Fives, Secret Sevens and the likes.
Romance with Mills and Boons was pretty short. I found all the books same and boring. In stead, Harry Potter's magical world renewed my enthusiasm. Sidney Sheldon mermerised me. The first ever Sidney Sheldon book that I laid my hands on was "Nothing Lasts Forver" and the second, "Tell Me Your Dreams". Both left me stupefied and I discovered a new place yet again in the booksworld. Many Daniel Steele, John Grisham, Jeffery Archer books later, I am currently into fiction by Indian authors and short stories.
Coming to the point: I am a highly imaginative person. Perhaps my imaginations are not always vocal, but it runs wild and weird. Reading books have massaged that factor in me. I don't read words; they just help me to build a pictorial story in my mind. That's why I can laugh better, feel the pain and understand many emotions that are portrayed in a book.
Like the movie 'Inception' where dreams are designed, I can architect an entire book in my mind. And if I happen to read the book for the second time, I see the same world unfurling before me.
I like spiralling in a world, which is created by someone yet enjoyed by me. I prefer reading to movies. I believe I have better imagination than any movie director.
Reading brings me peace and stoical calm. It is my meditation and sometimes my medication too. It puts my swirling mind to rest.
In spite of the above, I cannot claim to consume books at the rate at which I would like to. I don't read everyday. Nor do I read everything that I ideally would want to. I cannot proceed if I cannot draw a clear picture. I am picky. I am finicky. And I am not a voracious reader. Compared to what other book lovers have devoured, I am at the grass root level. And perhaps I may not rise from there.
I read what satisfies me. I do not read because my friend reads it/ likes it/ recommends it. I cannot. I cannot read just because the book is a bestseller. I read it because it appeals to me in a certain manner. I have liked some unheard-of books, and I have hated some award winning ones. I have my own tastes. I shy away from recommending books since I am not sure if it'll please others or not.
One more thing, I like books. Physical books. Not Kindles and Apple e-book readers. I adore turning pages. I love searching for the last read page. For that matter, I don't even like using bookmarks. I like being around books. Take me for an evening outing to any biiiiig library or Crosswords with lots of books; and I will be forever indebted to you.
I would love to pass on this book love to my children. Hope that happens.
Currently reading :: "Indian Voices", a compilation of short stories, prose, poetry by Indian authors.
(The stories are winning entries of some competition that was held some time back. One of the authors is my best friend, Shweta Virmani-Mehta)
Thank you again, Uma for this wonderful tag. I am open to such kinds of tags in future. Keep me in mind. :)
I tag Nitin "Dagabaaz" Prabhu! :P