To All the Books I Have Read Before

Familiarity. A comforting concept. Warm, safe and satisfying. It is reliable too. A thing to fall back on, or in some perturbing cases, a thing that doesn’t let you get up thereby preventing a fall altogether. Everlasting? Why not! However, like all good ideas in the world, it is too good a notion to be just good!

I wonder if my spirit animal (I don’t know the exact meaning of this term but I guess it is somewhat like a Patronus) is a beaver now (was definitely a turkey in the past)? I wonder about that a lot. Beavers make dams and that is the only thing they make. Their fragile dams, constructed entirely out of twigs, stones and leaves, do not stand the test of time but that doesn’t stop them from constructing new ones. Why don’t they make other things? Dams are pretty advanced structures and if they can make those they can make almost anything, but they don’t. Then again, why build anything else when you have mastered the construction of dams? I have never built a dam in my life, just a few bridges that I forgot to check up on later, but I am beginning to relate with beavers so much. Just like them, I am getting too comfortable with familiarity.

Now coming to the real problem – at the start of every year I make a list of books that I plan to read throughout the year. I had been doing quite good with that list in the past, maybe because it was realistic (just had five or six new books, none over thousand pages). Since a few years, however, I find myself struggling with it. The fact (more like a sudden realisation) that there are too many unread books and just not enough time anymore (ageing and shortening of attention span) makes me start more than two books at a time and not all of them manage to get my fingerprints all over their last pages. Life has always been busy in one way or another, but never before I had turned my back on a book. It would feel like a transgression. Now, I am just an unapologetic abandoner.  This, unfortunately, is neither the only reason of the ordeal, nor it is the biggest one ! It all comes back to the beavers, dams and the concept of familiarity…

I never had a proper place to put all my books in the house. I just had two shelves so that had meant not keeping too many books. I had access to libraries most of the times and felt good selling and buying books to and from the thrift stores. Sharing with friends, rather pestering them to read, was and still is a hobby, but somehow or the other, there are some books that I couldn’t give away and some that I cannot ever give away (the ebooks). Those books have now acquired ghost like characteristics. They are haunting me. In the worst way possible.

I pick up a new book, and after a few pages, I get this urge to read that part from Stephen King’s IT where Mike Hanlon calls everyone from the Loser’s Club, or that part in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows where Ron manages to find that secret radio show hosted by the members of the Order of the Phoenix or that ending from The Catcher in the Rye where Holden watches his sister ride the carousel…the list goes on. Thus, what I have been trying to convey is that recently, whenever I manage to find time to catch up on my to-read list, I end up reading the books that I have already read (not just once, but about a hundred times)! My mind refuses to handle new stories and form new affiliations. It has grown accustomed to familiarity. I wonder if there are other people out there, presently being haunted by the books they have read before?

I bet somewhere out there, beavers are not amused.

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