What can be more enjoyable than cosying up on your favourite couch on a wintry evening or a rainy afternoon with a good book. But such simple pleasures are things of the past.
Today’s young generation is happy with social media, internet games or just reading a book on kindle. I say, to touch a book, flip through its pages, inhale the odour of the fresh pages is a pleasure in itself.
Books too have undergone a change. Sci-fi literature is more popular now as they deal with imaginative and futuristic concepts, such as space exploration, extra-terrestrial life and fictional worlds. Science fiction provides thrills and excitement.
Even in the past detective fiction in the writings of Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle provided a lot of mystery, suspense and thrill.
But a few years ago there were books of a certain genre that were soft to read and provided a lot of practical sense and sensibility. Of course tastes differ from person to person .But I would like to write today about those books of yesteryears that appealed to the sensitivities of many young readers, especially girls who literally grew up among those pages with those characters.
Take for instance the Anne Series by L M Montgomery, written way back in 1908, not that long ago perhaps.The Anne series are a set of eight which includes Anne of Green Gables,Anne of Avonlea and Anne’s House of Dreams. They tell the story of Anne,a plucky young eleven year old with a feminine yet independent spirit. We see her going through life with all its highs and lows.These books have given generations of girls a strong female role model.
By modern standards the emphasis on good manners may seem a little heavy but Annes’s life shows the happy side of childhood, the excitement of finding a bosom friend and creating a romantic fantasy world. Anne’s life also shows the darker side of childhood, the sense of being unattractive. Anne prays “ let me be good -looking when I grow up ‘’is so relevant to every young girl in every generation.
Then there is Little Women by US author Louisa May Alcott, written in 1869. Generations of girls have loved the girls of the March family and their hard lessons of growing up in poverty.The story of lovely Meg, talented Jo,frail Beth and spoilt Amy makes this book one of the best loved of all times.
Then we had the Mallory Towers, a series of novels, set in the backdrop of a boarding school for girls, written by Enid Blyton. Mallory Towers is everything a school stands for- friendships, lessons sports, plays and especially mischief.
Then there was the William Series by English author Richmal Cromptan first published in the 1920s.These books chronicle the adventures of William, the unruly schoolboy and his gang of outlaws that is ,his band of friends who call themselves outlaws. William Brown is an eleven year old schoolboy,confident, strong willed, independent with original world views, a born leader who is keen to be chief in any undertaking of the outlaws.
When we talk of old books who can forget the classics. Take for example the novel Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte and the character of the destitute Heathcliff,an orphan boy who is brought home into his family by Mr Earnshaw but Heathcliff always remains an outcast. He feels rejected and becomes villian like in his rage and jealousy but his love for Catherine Earnshaw which ends in tragedy is pure and noble.
These books and others like these give the readers a picturesque view of the English countryside, the moors and manor houses, the wild upland landscape, idyllic settings of a bygone era.
Talking of children’s literature can we forget Charles Dickens. Most of us remember Great Expectations and Oliver Twist but the story of David Copperfield has touched the hearts of many a young reader. The young boy whose stepfather separates him from his mother and sends him away to a boarding school. This book which was published in 1849 has some endearing characters like Peggoty, David’s loyal nurse and the horse-cart driver Barkis. The message he keeps sending to Peggoty,touchingly funny “Barkis is willing’’ meaning Barkis is willing to marry Clara Peggoty.
A Tale Of Two Cities a better known novel of Dickens was published in 1859. Those who have read it could almost see the horrors of the French Revolution unfolding before their eyes. The character of Sydney Carton and the sacrifice of his own life for his friends Charles Darney and Lucy Mannette remains in the heart forever.
As long as the gentler and humane side of the human mind exists there will be a thirst for good stories. There are innumerable modern literature in this genre suitable for teenagers like those of the American- Afghan writer Khaled Hosseini whose The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns has touched the interest of young readers .
There are many, many more but what really makes a good book. The writing style should be lucid and easy to comprehend. The characters must appeal to the readers.Most of all the stories should not only touch the mind but also the soul. It should tug at your heart-strings and awaken your conscience so that it leaves a lasting impression.
Young teenagers, especially school boys and girls must take some time off from their mobiles and engage in a bit of reading.
Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in your mind opens a door to let in more light.
With good books, good friends and freedom who couldn’t be happy.
Happy reading youngsters