Tome And Plume: Throw Away Your Mobile Phone For A While, Pick Up A Fine Book

Tome And Plume: Throw Away Your Mobile Phone For A While, Pick Up A Fine Book

Studies serve for Delight, for Ornament, and for Ability – Francis Bacon

Arup Chakraborty Updated: Sunday, March 31, 2024, 12:10 AM IST
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Internet has the people entangled so much, that many of them have barely read a book for a year. So claims a new survey.

Those who have kept away from books include school children, college students, professionals, and even elderly people. Now the question is that which books might tempt them back in the reading habit and which should they avoid?

Many of us, especially those of the younger generation, admit that they have not read even a page for a year. Internet has got in the way of their reading habit.

Yet there are a few who half shove George Orwell’s 1984 or The Animal Farm in their pocket to look more intellectual than their peers.

Apart from this showbiz, they are away from books buying of which they consider a waste of money.

Many still troop to book shops and have a look at the tomes lined up in the cupboards there, but clearly the books they see in the racks do not inspire them to buy them.

But then what would really attract someone wishing to read something after a gap of a year or so.

If you are fond of contemporary British literature, you can opt for ‘Beasts of England’ by Adam Biles.

In Beasts of England, critics say, Biles updates George Orwell’s classics and challenges the chaotic, fragmentary nature of populist politics as well as populist measures the governments across the world take these days to woo voters.

Each page of ‘Beasts of England’ gradually turns into a savage farmyard satire. It is light-hearted and written with much compassion and elegance.

Likewise, The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith reads well – but on a bus. It is too funny.

A Thousand Years of Good Prayers by Yiyun Li is a good short-story collection. You may look elite holding it in your hand even if you are unable to get through it.

You can also lay your hands on the books of Wilkie Collins. Each page of his novels grips his reader. Women in White (1859) may be your favourite. Yet you cannot be oblivious of The Moonstone (1868).

There have been many Indian authors writing in English since the days of Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay who wrote Raj Mohan’s Wife. He is of course well-known for Bengali novels, and Anandamath, in which the national song Vande Matarm is written, is one of them.

Salman Rushdie’s latest novel ‘Victory City’ may also inspire you. Yet it is not easy to put your hands on this complex work.

Another Indian author Manjula Padmanabham may encourage you to return to your reading room. She initially drew her reader’s attention with ‘The Island of Lost Girls’ but the protagonist of her latest novel ‘Taxi,’ Maddy Sen, who works as a driver for other women, may inspire you to sift through its pages after years of absence from reading.

The 3RD Woman by Jonathan Freedland is another novel that sends chill up your spine. A journalist Madison Webb has covered dangerous stories, but it was beyond her imagination that one day she would cover the murder of her own sister.

You can also take up a biography or an autobiography to get into reading spirit. Milkman, by Irish author Anna Burns is a semi-autobiographical novel that won Booker Prize in 2018. The portrait of the protagonist of the novel has been limned through first person’s account.

Nevertheless, you cannot afford to miss her ‘No Bones’ which deals with the life of a girl who is raised in Belfast during the troubled days.

To get into the spirit of reading after a long gap, you just avoid the works of Samuel Beckett, George Saunders, James Joyace and Rushdie. They are too complex for you to appreciate, and once you pick them up and try to have a glance at them, you will give a wide berth to your reading room.

So, before taking up a book, you must remember what Edmund Burke wrote: “Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting.”

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