This delightful anthology-cum-memoir is a special opportunity for Ruskin Bond fans to know the books this master storyteller grew up with. He opens the book by clarifying that “this little book is about the books I read and loved when I was a boy and a young man.” So, in short, this book is about the books that influenced our beloved author in some way or another.
It is wonderful to see him grow as a writer through the lens of those books which inspired him. Apart from his literary journey, the reader also gets an idea about the books, the authors, and the times he mentions in the book.
A significant part of this book is about the works of his favorite authors P.G.Wodehouse, H.E.Bates, W. Somerset Maugham, Charles Dickens, Richard Jefferies, etc. And icing on the cake is the excerpts from these great authors’ marvelous works.
All the chapters give the readers glimpses of his growing relationship with books over the years. The first chapter is That week in the jungle, where he provides a brief account of the incident from his early childhood, which introduced him to this magical world of books. At the age of 8, while accompanying his stepfather on a hunting expedition in the jungles of the Himalayan foothills, he preferred to stay back at the lodge as he had no liking for this sport at all. There he discovered his interest in reading when to pass his time, and he began to read books owned by the lodge, which opened a whole new world for him. The first two books that captured his attention were; Love Among The Chickens by P.G. Wodehouse and The Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by M.R. James. Both books belong to two different genres, the first gives a humorous account of chicken farming, and the second is about supernatural things. Love Among The Chickens made him a fan of Wodehouse, to whom he often turned whenever he longed to escape from his routine boarding school life or domestic conflicts. The second chapter of this book is dedicated to Wodehouse and The Love Among The Chickens.
In the following parts, he goes on to tell how he evolved as a reader from reading comics of Superheroes to the classics by H.E. Bates, Charles Dickens, Somerset Maugham, Graham Greene, R.L. Stevenson, Agatha Christie, and many other eminent writers. How these books influenced his personal life is evident from his decision to move to London inspired by the book David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. Other than all-time classics of English literature, a few other less-known authors also find a place in Ruskin Bond’s bookshelf. The most exciting part of Love Among The Bookshelves is the narratives Ruskin Bond built around these books, allowing the readers to peep into the exciting journey of his life.
This bookshelf tour will surely bring the readers closer to their beloved author. A not to be missed read not just by an ardent Ruskin Bond fan but by all literature lovers as they will get a fair glimpse of many literary masterpieces from an intellectual’s point of view.