“Books are the quietest and most important of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and most patients of teachers.” stated Charles W. Elliot. Ruskin Bond wrote a book “Love among the Bookshelves” which unifies with the statement of Charles W. Elliot. Bond with the best is the one-line description of Ruskin Bond’s book - “Love among the Bookshelves.” which is a combination of both memoir and anthology.
Ruskin Bond is one of the child-friendly authors of India. He was awarded the Padmasri in 1999 for his contribution to the Children’s Literature. He has written over 300 short-stories, essays and novels and more than 30 books for children. The book “Love among the Bookshelves” specifies that how a good writer is as a good reader too. A self-made reader turned writer’s recap of his initial preparations for conquering the world of literature. The chapters in this book move with time on swing.
Memoir literature dates back close to 17th century and continued throughout the 18th century which led to the creation of a class of books. At that time there was a greater vogue in France than in England. Moving from sonnet and amatory lyrics, satiric verse, gossipy letters on things in general or political squibs took centre stage of writings. By means of this light, discursive literature had a steady flow of illuminating gossip on the life of the time, highly valuable to the social historian.
Ruskin Bond’s “Love among the Bookshelves” finds place in the memoir literature. In this book Bond suggests the way to thorough reading during the commentary of his experience of John Richard Jefferies’ writings (page-159), true to the Chinese saying “To read a book for the first time is to make an acquaintance with a new-friend, to read it for a second time is to meet an old one.”
Appreciating Denton Welch, Ruskin Bond says, “I hope ’A voice through a cloud’ is reprinted some day.” (Page – 145) Regarding Charles Dickens, “I quote ‘And recently I read Our mutual friends’ for the first time. London’s dockland came to life again for me.’ Says Bond.” This assures us that books are not time-bound. “School days, Rule Days” – Chapter three of the book holds fist-full of notes. Indian writings in English, popularity of pseudonyms, his games and his dreams.
Radio – the major medium of Broadcast in those days. Bond’s link with Radio, begins at an early age. He listened to BBC’s General Overseas Service, to comedy programmes such as Tommy Handley’s ITMA . Later, I quote from page – 150, “I had written a piece called ‘My Two Homes’ about an English boy growing up in an Indian home and this became a talk that I gave on BBC Radio.”
Ruskin Bond’s book will educate us in enormous ways. It gives us a rare opportunity of viewing writers through a writer’s mind, certainly not as a critic.