Books are indispensable - GulfToday

Books are indispensable

Shaadaab S. Bakht


Shaadaab S. Bakht, who worked for famous Indian dailies The Telegraph, The Pioneer, The Sentinel and wrote political commentaries for, is Gulf Today’s Executive Editor.


Sheikha Bodour during a book reading session with children.

Why books? Because they help us develop a vision of life, guide us and never fail us. I read my Holy Book. I stood corrected. I stood armed for life. I almost became a victim of myths, but reading the book rescued me from certain intellectual degeneration. I read excerpts from other Holy books. I emerged confident and was prepared to face the so-called pundits at multiple levels.

One of the biggest messages the books left for me was no act is more important in life than helping the have-nots. Our Leftist friends use up their lives and employ thousands of words to drive home the significance of the deed, something strongly recommended by religion. I found that very interesting.   

In high school, my friend introduced me to the novels of Thomas Hardy. He told me that Hardy was a pessimist. It was a vision of life, which never caused disappointment, the novelist argued. The circumstances of my life used to often leave me unhappy, but Hardy with remarks like “happiness was but the occasional episode in a general drama of pain” inculcated in me a deep sense of tolerance.

Inspired by the gain, delightfully harvested through my reading of Thomas Hardy, I embraced more books

Hardy’s observation on marriage, presented in a sentence, can take on a treatise. His cutting-edge view helped me understand relationships. He wrote, “People go on marrying because they can’t resist natural forces, although many of them may know perfectly well that they are possibly buying a month’s pleasure with a life’s discomfort.”

Inspired by the gain, delightfully harvested through my reading of Thomas Hardy, I embraced more books. Some of them — Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Albert Camus’s The Outsider, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights — became my inseparable company through thick and thin.  

Words like Dostoevsky’s “ How true it is! Good God, how true! Man is a vile creature! … And vile is he who calls him vile for that” and Bronte’s “A half-civilised ferocity lurked yet in the depressed brows and eyes full of black fire, but it was subdued; and his manner was even dignified: quite divested of roughness, though stern for grace” completely revolutionised my interpretation of life and man’s foibles.

Therefore, Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi was right on the money when she said, “We believe that books go a long way towards helping countries and cultures understand each other, and they are needed now more than ever. Indeed, the world needs more books, not bombs.”

Of course, we need more books, not bombs. The reason is simple. One is a celebration of principles, the other their burial.

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