My Foray Into The Magical World of Literature (1/3): Amar Chithra Katha to Gorky

Sangeetha Alwar
2 min readJan 24, 2021

My fascination for stories stemmed from the ones I’d listen to as a child. We never had television at home so I’d turn to my father or my uncle during the evenings as they sat sipping filter coffee with Kishore Kumar playing in the background. I had a few favorite stories — a choice tidbit from Birbal’s adventures that my father loved retelling and the story of Kuvalayapeeda (the mad elephant at Kamsa’s court).

It opened up amazing worlds to me, worlds where anything was possible — women were heroes of their own fates, magic was real, dinosaurs could talk and stars could be counted! I started reading like every other kid in the block — I read stories from the Amar Chitra Katha until I was in third grade and then my aunt bought me a box set of Famous Five and there was no going back.

Pretty soon, I had graduated to Harry Potter — although I did have to wait for a year and another for the seventh and the eighth book to come out. I remember picking up a copy of The Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens when I was in fifth grade because my school library had no more books left in the section that was allotted to people of my grade. I returned it the very next day — the pages had words — they were in English — but it made absolutely no sense!! When I did pick it back up again during my degree in English Literature — it was a revelation.

Every book has its allotted “read by” date, would you agree? You read it a little earlier — it is incomprehensible — you read it later — it most definitely is a farce.

My passion for stories waned with time — I was in high school now and I didn’t really like what I was reading — it all felt the same! John Grisham, Jeffrey Archer, Arthur Conan Doyle — what have you. I thought this was all it was — and then Maxim Gorky changed my world.

What was the one book that changed your perception of literature?

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Sangeetha Alwar

A Professor of English by day, a “Quasimodoesque” figure while hunched over the iPad, a reluctant academician and a passionate reader.