National Reading Day: 5 authors reveal how reading changed their lives – Times of India


June 19 marks the National Reading Day which is celebrated across India in honour of late P.N. Panicker, also called the father of India’s Library Movement. Panicker is credited for Kerala’s Universal Literacy Rate of 100%. And in order to emphasize on the importance of reading, CBSE has asked schools across the country to celebrate Reading Day and week. Started in 1996, Reading Day began Kerala and since then it has become a movement in the country.

Here we list down a few popular authors who reveal how reading changed their lives.

1. Jhumpa Lahiri

“Once I realised that reading was like eating and breathing and sleeping, I felt like I knew I was a writer. The absorption of the reading will produce, over time, the writing. The authors become your sense of order and beauty. You create relationships with them. This needs to happen for the writer,” Jhumpa Lahiri said in an interview with The Times of India.

2. Sunjeev Sahota

In a recent interview to TOI Books, when Man Booker Prize 2015 nominee Sunjeev Sahota was asked about the books and authors who changed his life and how, he mentioned two books that helped him understand himself. “Rohinton Mistry’s ‘A Fine Balance’! I read it when I was 19. It was the first book that completely absorbed me and also closely devastated me. I couldn’t stop thinking about those characters after I finished reading the book. It’s an unbelievably sad book… It kind of showed me how novels can really change you inside. Also, ‘Sons and Lovers’ by DH Lawrence which is set in a mining town. I grew up in a mining town and it explained the kind of men I grew up with in the community around me,” he told us.

3. Jahnavi Barua

In an interview with TOI Books, when asked about her writing tip for aspiring authors, Jahnavi Barua said that one should read widely and to understand themselves deeply. “This insight will help develop their own voices and will translate into original, meaningful writing,” she told us. Truly, reading does make you a better writer!

4. Kavita Kane

In an earlier interview with TOI Books, when we asked popular Indian mytho-fiction writer Kavita Kane was asked about her inspiration she replied that it was one of Irawati Karve’s books that inspired her to try writing her own books! “(When) I got hold of Irawati Karve’s ‘Yuganta’– the English translation- and I, for the first time, saw the epic the Mahabharata through a different lens altogether. It was the most searing read, an almost cynical study, sort of a sociological treatise on the chief characters of the Mahabharata. She treats them more as historical characters than revered figures of the epic– people with flaws who made mistakes all the while employing their follies, their attitudes and actions to seek insight into the socio-political-cultural ethos of those times while drawing parallels with the country’s history… That Karve was essentially an anthropologist and a sociologist who made the needed difference. But as a reader and later as a writer, it made me aware of the power, the potential and pull of alternative perspectives. And unwittingly I did follow on those lines when I eventually got down to write my debut novel,” Kane said.

5. Bill Clinton
In a recent interview to The Guardian, former US President-author Bill Clinton shared how he always wanted to be a writer, but doubted himself. He further said that he was inspired to put his thoughts to pen after reading certain books. “I always wanted to be a writer, but doubted my ability to do it… From my senior year in college to my first year in law school, I read five books that made me think it was worth a try: ‘North Toward Home’ by Willie Morris; ‘The Confessions of Nat Turner’ by William Styron; ‘You Can’t Go Home Again’ by Thomas Wolfe; ‘The Fire Next Time’ by James Baldwin; and ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ by Maya Angelou,” Clinton said.

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