How to be a Writer by Ruskin Bond: Book Review
How to be a Writer is a little book full of advice for aspiring and established writers penned by India’s most beloved and popular writer Ruskin Bond. If there is one writer whose books I buy without even reading the synopsis, and sometimes not even the book’s title, that author is the writer from the hills, Ruskin Bond. Ruskin Bond has inspired children like me growing up in the 1990’s so deeply that we look at life upside down, like an upside-down omelet, and we make the most of life. We have as parents, teachers, and writers encouraged our wards or students to read books penned by Ruskin Bond because we wish to share with them the love for writing, nature, life, humor, ghost stories, books, and so much else that make a person living in a world of Ruskin Bond, a happy person. In this little book, essentially written for children, Ruskin Bond mentions what it truly means to be a writer and how to encourage oneself along the way. It is intended for children who show an aptitude for reading and writing and those who, even in this age of instant messaging and instant gratification, want to become published writers. However, I would say this book is meant not only for children but also for those adults who have, in one way or another, become or are aspiring to be writers. This book is also a treat for all Ruskin Bond fans and a must-have for your special Ruskin Bond shelf.
I picked this little book from Mumbai’s best bookstore: Kitab Khana in the Fort area. As mentioned earlier, I only read the book’s title and the author’s name and just grabbed it from my book salesman friend Prashant’s hands.
“I knew you would love to have it, Fiza madam,” Prashant said as he went off to get more books for me to browse.
This was when I went shopping for books after eight months due to the pandemic. How to be a Writer by Ruskin Bond was the first book I bought, and I read it two days ago during a long car ride from Bandra West to Malad West to visit my ailing godmother Mechu. The book was almost over on the return journey, and I finished the book at home, seated in the shared bedroom, which houses 9,000 books. Don’t worry, that is not all; I live a bookish life with almost 32,000 physical books on my premises. This is not counting the Kindle books.
My godmother Mechu is seriously unwell, and I am very attached to her. I really needed to read on the car journey in the dark of evening an author’s book who would hug me through his words. That is what my dear old Ruskin Bond did for me during that car ride to and from my godmother’s place. I was especially touched by Ruskin Bond’s words in the book, where he mentions that we writers go through a lot of sorrow, but when you look around, everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. That line touched me and brought down a waterfall of tears on my N-95 mask, drenching it with my salty tears. I can say those words charged me up and got me back to work, making me remember that there will be ups and even more downs in a writer’s life, but one must persevere. According to Ruskin Bond, perseverance seems a trifle thing at first on the career to literary life, but it is the main ingredient. Without it, a writer will not survive in the world of publishers and men of letters. Perseverance and faith in oneself and ones talent will make the talented writer do what Ruskin Bond has been doing for over 70 years as a published writer: earning his daily bread through his writings.
Being a writer and niche publisher Ruskin Bond’s books have helped me take courage during turmoil. I have fought bravely for the past eight years in this literary profession and still maintain that I have a long way to go. For writers like me, who need a push and those writers who are going through writer’s block, this is a cute little book of humorous nuggets, in the richness of Ruskin Bond’s humorous chicken or duck gravy. It is a hug in book form and a must-have for all writers struggling with their careers. When I read this book, I sighed to myself. In my Goodreads review, I wrote that if only I had read such a book when I was beginning my literary career or when I was a little child studying in Bombay Scottish School and aspiring even then to one day be a teacher and, more importantly, a writer! The children of the modern age are blessed to get this book on their bookshelf, and I encourage all children in schools aspiring to one day see their writings in print to pick up this book titled How to be a Writer and read and re-read it all the days of your literary life.
Coming to the readers looking for actual concrete advice for becoming a writer, this is not the book where you will find all that sort of information. This beautiful book is to churn the ocean of passion for the literary craft within you, especially through the blessings and love of the most beloved writer of the hills and India, Ruskin Bond. The book is his humble little blessing to all those who have achieved the dream of a life in books and those still struggling. So, don’t condemn the book saying that it did not answer your query. The truth of the matter is, there is no how-to book on this planet that can give you the required information about what it entails to become a published writer in the twenty-first century. Every aspiring writer’s journey is different, and their needs are different. Ruskin Bond lived when as he has mentioned, there were not many writers, and it was a little bit easy for him to make a living with his writings. Today, everyone with a laptop or a pen wants to be the next Jeffrey Archer or the next J. K. Rowling, or for that matter, the next Ruskin Bond! As Ruskin Bond mentions in this little book, it’s not wrong to write books for money and fame, but it does not happen instantly. It takes years of effort and perseverance to find what works for you, and then you see the silver lining in the grey clouds that were clouding your literary horizon of dreams.
So do not expect this book to be a how-to book but read it as soul curry for the writer’s soul, which Ruskin Bond has penned in such a way that you get a good laugh or two along the way.
Coming to children, yes, this book is a HarperCollins Children’s book, and it is primarily meant for them. So do encourage your children, wards, and students to read this book. There is a bibliography of Ruskin Bond’s recommended books that children should pay heed to. Ruskin Bond makes it clear to young readers that he would not have become the writer he is today if he had not read books as a child. So, encourage your children to read this book. Check out the books Ruskin Bond has recommended and let them read those books too. Ruskin Bond has mainly recommended the classics to be read by children to improve their writing skills and encourage them to become not only good but talented writers. If you want another how-to book to encourage your children or students to read the classics, you can check out my award-winning book titled Classics: Why and how we can encourage children to read them on my blog’s products page. Back to Ruskin Bond, he breaks it down in a humorous way for children to understand and comprehend the basic idea of what it entails to be a writer. I know for a fact that many children do want to become writers but are not guided properly. I have witnessed it in my eleven years as a teacher. This book will be perfect for getting them interested in the craft and business of writing.
How to be a Writer, penned by Ruskin Bond, is a must-have book for all Ruskin Bond lovers and fans, old and young. In my review on Goodreads, I have even mentioned that this book is for all readers and aspiring writers, from ages 8 to 80! It is soul curry at the end of the day, and it is lovely to hear our dear Ruskin Bond’s voice, especially during these troubled pandemic times and other difficulties. I have certainly added this book to my Ruskin Bond bookshelf. I have almost every book written by him in my possession and hope to collect more as the years go by. This book is an immensely fast read even for children, so do not hesitate to pick up this book. I hope to read and review and analyze more of Ruskin Bond’s books and other writings soon. Ruskin Bond is my second best all-time favorite writer. I have written a great deal about him in my memoirs titled Scenes of a Reclusive Writer & Reader of Mumbai and The Reclusive Writer & Reader of Bandra, which you can check out here.
I live a life of seclusion dedicated to reading, teaching, and writing. But as Ruskin Bond mentions in the book How to be a Writer, one need not necessarily become a hermit to be a writer. However, most of a writer’s life is a lonely one. Mine is spent in my office-cum-writing hut or in a tiny corner between bookshelves in the shared bedroom of my home. One needs to realize that one can’t just spend ones time talking about the book one is supposed to write. One must sit at ones desk and start writing. There is no how-to book that can convince you to write your book. It would help if you convinced yourself that you need a disciplined life to write every day and get to it for the rest of your days. Ruskin Bond’s book ends with a beautifully illustrated postcard, which indicates that Bond wants to hear from his admirers. Do write to him after you have finished reading and re-reading How to be a Writer. And do pick up a hardback copy, if possible, from your nearest bookstore. If you are new to the Ruskin Bond world, you can start by reading a nice little ghost story of his titled ‘A Face in the Dark’, which I have analyzed on my blog.
I was thrilled beyond measure to read and review Anglo-Indian writer Ruskin Bond’s book. I hope to read and review more of his books in the coming days.
If you are interested in book reviews, book analysis, short story analysis, poems, essays, essay analysis, and other bookish content, you can check out my blog insaneowl.com. If you are interested in purchasing my books, you can check out my blog’s products page. There is a lot of good stuff to buy. Happy reading to you always!
Copyright © 2021 Fiza Pathan
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