Sharanya Misra

Little by little, I allowed my book- thirsty self to re-emerge. Soon, I had seamlessly transitioned from a traditionalist to a modern reader, and I was grateful for the existence of this new medium!

(This post is part of my Mommy Moments series.)

If you have been a parent to a newborn or a toddler, you would understand when I say that it seems almost impossible to pick up a book around them. A physical book, I mean. As a baby, my little one was extra sensitive to sounds in her sleep (still is actually). A simple act of Mommy eating a chip would wake her up, thereby sending Mommy’s hour long efforts of making her sleep down the drain. Reading a physical book in these circumstances, when I was too scared to even move a muscle, was simply out of the question!! And now that she’s a toddler, well, every book is her book, no? Sigh! Trying to read with a small child around is no easy job. And this is the desperation that sent me on the road to discovering the joy of ebooks!

This is what happens when I try to read!

I remember starting to read two books when I was 7 months pregnant – Becoming by Michelle Obama (Review here) and The Forest of Enchantments by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (Review Here). Starting. I never made it beyond a couple of chapters. Because, well, pregnancy wasn’t really an enjoyable time for me. I told myself I would read them later, when I could be more comfortable, physically. Hah! What delusion I must have been in to imagine I could pick up a book immediately post partum, right?!

Surprisingly though, I wasn’t entirely wrong. In the second week after my delivery, I actually did finish The Forest of Enchantments. The reasons that enabled me were multifold. I had many relatives around me taking care of my baby. I was exhausted and needed that break. I was depressed and the book was an indication of normalcy despite my tumultous inner self that was struggling to break free and escape at the time. And so, I did pick up the book and finished it. I even put up the review. It was an exhilarating feeling to be able to read and write so soon into motherhood. It helped me get over my post partum depression and told me that inspite of everything new around me a litle bit of my old self was still thriving.

Well, that exhilaration was short lived. Once my daughter turned 4 months old, I just could not pick up a book or my laptop. She increasingly needed me to be with her. I would sit up for hours with her on my lap so she could get her precious sleep. She would wake up to the smallest sound or movement. So holding a physical book and turning its pages was simply a maniacal idea. If you have ever put a baby to sleep, you would know the extent parents go to to make sure that the baby stays that way. Asleep. I sure wasn’t going to have a crying cranky baby on my hands just because I couldn’t stop myself from turning pages. And so I imagined I could well and truly say goodbye to my favourite thing to do.

That’s when I finally decided to give ebooks a sincere try. I mean, I had read ebooks before. But I had always been very dismissive of them. I guess I could attribute it to my old school love for physical books – the feel of the pages between my fingers, the musty fragrance of a freshly bound book. Ahh, well. I would always read an ebook and then tell myself I would order a physical copy, and read it again, because an ebook to me just didnt complete the experience!

This time though, I downloaded the Kindle app on my phone, took a Kindle Unlimited subscription and began to actively read ebooks. All those hours I spent holding my baby to sleep, sometimes all day, and at other times all night long, I began to spend reading on my phone. I picked up books by relatively new authors – Hiraeth by Shivani Salil, Dance to my Tunes by Tanvi Sinha, Shailaja Pai’s A Promise Kept, to name a few. I read Eating Wasps by Anita Nair, something I had always wanted to do, and loved it. Then I realised I craved familiarity at a time when my identity was getting lost in my motherhood. I re-read Little Women and Wuthering Heights. I re-read the entire Harry Potter series. Little by little, I allowed my book- thirsty self to re-emerge and devoured to my heart’s content. And just like that, I had seamlessly transitioned from a traditionalist to a modern reader, and I was grateful for the existence of this new medium! Technology had opened a whole new world of reading to me.

And so today, from someone who was a staunch supporter of physical books, I have now moved to a more realistic book-in-any-form stance. I have found that in a tug of war between reading a physical copy and not reading at all, I was okay with settling for an alternative medium as long as the content reached me. I started to lose myself in the screen of my phone, just as I would in a regular book in my hand. I began to value the advantages of a medium of reading that is portable. I could read while travelling, over lunch at office or while going to pick up my daughter from the day care. It was God sent in my opinion that to do all of this I didn’t have to carry the book’s weight around. I was already carrying my baby, my office bag and the baby bag, so you can imagine why! Ebooks also gave me access to all those books that were only published on a digital platform, which is actually quite the trend now. And what’s more, reading on my phone also paved way for me to write on my phone too. I had always had a mental block writing on such a small screen. I was used to writing on my laptop. But over time, I realised the advantages of writing on a device that was anyways already in my hand pretty much all the time.

So yes, allowing myself to give ebooks a chance let me grab my second chance at reading post my delivery. As my kid grows up, I will probably have to struggle much less with holdind a book in hand. And then, I am pretty sure I will prefer that old school medium to this one, simply because I am a collector who enjoys seeing her book shelves filled. But I will forever be grateful to this technology for bridging the gap this period would have otherwise created, and filling a void that would have been quite devastating to me as a book lover.

If you are a parent and are struggling to read books too, do give ebooks a shot. Give yourself a couple of days with them and let them grow on you. You never know, you may thank me some day for coaxing you into a sanity-saving new habit 🙂

Read my previous post “Re(De)fining Traditions for our Children” in the Mommy Moments series.

Mommy Moment with my daughter.

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