Shefali Shah: ‘Roald Dahl is my favourite fiction writer’

Shefali Shah is an avid book reader. And her journey into the world of books was organic. She says, “I began reading when I was around 9-10 years. I don’t remember when exactly, actually. I was a single child and didn’t have friends so I just got hooked on to books.”

Shefali doesn’t recall the first book she read but she says, “The last book I finished reading was ‘Where Did You Go Bernadette?” She loved the book. She also read Nocturnes, but she wasn’t too impressed with it. She is currently reading Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf and The Scent of Almonds by Camilla Lackberg.

Her favourite fiction writer is Roald Dahl. Once she started reading his work she became addicted to his writing. She shares, “Even after reading many of his books he managed to shock and surprise me. The element of surprise is very high in his stories, both short stories as well as novels. And to think that he started with children’s books is quite something. He has the kind of imagination that runs wild and still is believable.”

She loves Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series. Shefali says, “According to me this is he best heroine material story ever written since Thornbirds and Gone With The Wind.”

She is not embarrassed by anything she has read so far. She says, “I loved whatever I read. I may or may not read some of the books I had read earlier today. but honestly I’m not embarrassed about any even if it wasn’t in the highest literary order. From Archie Digest to Amar Chitrakatha, to The Famous 5 and The Secret 7 I have enjoyed all my reading matter.”

Whether Shefali reads a book in one installment or over a few days depends on the book, but says she reads books that engage her in one or two sittings.

She doesn’t share a list of five must-have books on her book shelves because she believes, “Five to 10 books isn’t enough. Besides, I don’t have book cases I have mini libraries at home.”

While travelling on long distance flights she reads thrillers that she can finish quickly. She elaborates, “They shouldn’t need much effort or involvement and still be engaging.”

She is convinced that “It’s very difficult for a film to match the book it is adapted from. The fact is that a book leaves everything to the imagination of the reader while a film puts form to it. A film is an interpretation of the maker and not everyone may share that interpretation. A book on the other hand is a world that the reader explores on his/her own terms. Reading a book is an experience that is dictated by one’s own vision, it’s not a forced one. The experience of reading a book can and does change as years go by, as a reader matures.”

She has a list of books that she would like to recommend to her children but she jocularly laments, “Now only if my kids read books.”

The language of the books she reads is restricted to English. “I can read and write Hindi and can read Gujarati and Marathi, but I haven’t read books in these languages. I Have read scripts in Hindi though if that counts,” she says.

She is a voracious reader and an equally avid film/series watcher too. However, she is not a big fan of newspapers. She has been inspired by her reading habit to write. She has a blog and she writes prose, poetry, about her experiences and “whatever I need to express”.

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