ESTONIANS AND BOOKS – Savio (INDIA)
“There is no friend as loyal as a book”.
A treasure house of knowledge, books are wonderful gifts to mankind. They educate and entertain us, and serve as good companions when we are lonely. They guide us when we are confused, inspire us when we are low in spirit, and console us in sorrow. The regime of books is a vast universe. There are books on literature, science, fiction, history, art, culture, civilization, architecture, fashion, technology, philosophy, etc. Some books are for serious reading, and even those which are not as serious are nonetheless intended to enrich our knowledge and learning. Certain books afford us valuable insight into various aspect of life. Books on travel and adventure infuse into us a spirit of fearlessness and adventure. Reading novels is a pleasant pastime for many, which provides us with an escape from the hustle and bustle of life.
Books help to widen our interest and broaden our outlook by enriching our thoughts in understanding different aspects of life. They are inspirational and encouraging to those who seek mental prowess and enlightening for those in search of knowledge.
But why did I write about books ?
It is not only because of the fascination that I have towards them as an avid reader, but because they also were a significant contributing factor to my decision to pursue studies in Estonia, the country with the most books per person in the world.
My enthusiasm for studying in foreign country molded my curiosity to know more about it, which motivated me to take up the Estonian Culture Course, which is offered during the Autumn Semester at the University of Tartu. It is here in the curriculum that I was made aware of the fact that “on an average, an Estonian teenager owned more books that any native of an English speaking country.” This research, by Dr Joanna Sikora from the ANU, not only pertained to younger age groups, but also extended to every household member. Overall, there were about 5 books for every Estonian including fiction, history, literature, journals, novels, math and IT: the average family owned over 200 books.
Estonia has been home to multiple authors and novelists who’ve penned down biographies and texts as, hobbyists and professionals alike. It is the ethical culture within Estonia that has made the citizens adopt and preserve these texts and affectionately share them with those who value the essence of the written word.
Time immemorial has witnessed the rise of culturally titanic personalities like Oskar Luts for his funny and lyrical “Kevade” (Spring), Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald with his epic poem “Kalevipoeg”, Eduard Vilde, regarded as the Father of English Prose, Jaan Kross, a Nobel Prize nominee for “Keisri Hull“ (The Czar’s Madman, 1978) and many more. These authors who have risen to the pinnacle of writing and literature have marked an eternal and special place in the hearts and lives of those who follow the art of writing.
Even though most of the books published here are in the Estonian language, expert translations into different languages have made the works of these Estonian authors popular across the globe and made these books immediately accessible to millions worldwide.
I feel ecstatic to be a part of a culture that appreciates and celebrates their love for scripts and books to the extent of owing them as prized possessions. Estonia definitely awards true bookworms who have an eye for excellent literature and the presence of mind to truly appreciate what those texts bestow upon the world. After all, what feeling is better than spending a blissful autumn afternoon under a tree, sojourning through a fable while the wind hustles among the leaves, or sitting by the fireplace on a cold winter night, embracing a classic piece of literature while the snow outside silently harmonizes with your fervor for losing yourself in text?