The Power of Words

15May11

There’s something about a good book … a really good book. The sort of book that makes you think ‘How do they know that about me?’, the kind of book that makes you question the big stuff in life. You know? Like love, death and samosas. This weekend I have hidden in the bathroom, woken at 6am, lain awake until 2am in a heady whirl of Indian spices, American hamburgers, feathered hats, gold jewels and saris. Jhumpa Lahiri is one of my all time favourite authors. She won the Pulitzer prize for her book of short stories, ‘Interpreter of Maladies’ and I read this and the beautiful ‘Unaccustomed Earth’ a few years ago. Until Friday night I had kept my copy of ‘The Namesake’, the one book I hadn’t read of Lahiri’s, high on my bookshelf ‘saving it for later’ (i.e. until she wrote another one that I could then keep in lieu). On Friday night I gave in, broke the paperback spine and fell into a world of writing that seduced my weekend.

Good books make you want to live a better life, to do all the things you planned to do, to get yourself in order. As the story of Gogol, later Nikhil, swam around inside my brain I vowed to read more, to write more – to live more. I bought cards today to send to friends in far flung places, friends I love dearly but now see rarely … reading this beautiful book made me miss them, made me want to rush out and buy them all a copy and inscribe it with love and an exhortation to sit down with a pot of tea, a mug of coffee or a glass of good red wine and lose themselves too. Perhaps my hope was that we would meet somewhere in the middle and share the other worlds that Lahiri conjours up, laugh at the same passages, yearn for the same things?

Whatever it was, however it did it, that really good book reaffirmed the power of words.

What’s your favourite book and why?

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