Since we had a mother-son duo at the BYOB Party in May, we thought we would speak to both of them.
Tell us about your love story with books.
Piya: It started early right when I could read. I don’t remember the first book I read but I do know that I started very young. I would read anything- newspapers, periodicals, children’s magazines and books in Bengali and English, particularly my parent’s books which were not necessarily child-friendly. There was a lot of encouragement from home to read. At school, I was mostly in the library as sports was not my thing. I read Metamorphosis by Kafka in class 7. Back then, I thought it was absurd and funny but every time I revisited the book, there was a new takeaway. I keep revisiting books I’ve read before.
I’ve been amazed by your picture-perfect memory of the plots of the many books you have talked about. How do you remember all the books that you’ve read?
It’s not that I have a photographic memory but there are two things that I remember from every book that I’ve read – one is the basic storyline and the second most important is the emotion it left with me and how I connected with the book.
Of late, I’ve been indiscreet about the books I’ve been choosing. So now I do my homework before I start a book so that I don’t invest my time in books I will not enjoy. This is what I enjoy about book clubs and this BYOB Party in particular. I get to find books that are good reads in genres I usually would not pick on my own. Book clubs expand your horizons or you get bogged down by one kind of genre. The BYOB Party is a great place to meet all kinds of readers as well. I always wondered who would read self-help books but now since visiting BYOB parties like these, I realize that there is a huge market for this genre.
Tell us about your book journey.
Roheet: I’m a humanities student, so when I want to understand more about something I go to books, particularly historical pieces so that I have a better understanding of that time frame. This has helped me piece together things that I would otherwise have found hard to understand. Now my reading has evolved from just historical novels to writers like Murakami, so different from what I am used to.
It’s my first time at the BYOB Party and I’ve already found so many books that are genuinely interesting, so I think I would really like to come for the next BYOB Party.
What is your take on the reading habits of the student community? Is it catching up or falling behind?
Roheet: There’s a huge divide in the college space, but I fall into the category of book lover.
I liked Sylvia Plath’s confessional style in The Bell Jar and Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore.
How has your mother influenced your reading choices?
Roheet: Initially, I used to read some of her books and I did not necessarily understand her complicated collection. When I reread the books, it made sense. She has a great taste in books.
Piya: In fact, most of our fights are about books. I don’t want him to take my books as I am very possessive about them. I don’t want a single dent in them.
So how do you arrange your books? Do you separate them on the book rack or is it on the same shelf?
Piya: Unfortunately, it is, so every time he takes my books he has to take permission.
Roheet: Even if there is a slight mark on a page, she does not take it too well. Her books are like her children; she has such a strong connect with them. So I try not to borrow her books to avoid the pain.
Piya: Fortunately, now we have a Kindle each, so that has lessened these arguments. I resisted Kindle for the longest time but then it worked for me when I was traveling; particularly when I wanted to read two or three books simultaneously, the Kindle was a good choice. And then there is the added bonus of not having to repeatedly worry about spoiling the book. Plus it good for the environment.
Roheet: But there is something special about reading a hard copy.
Piya: I agree there. Sometimes the hard copy is convenient, particularly when you want to go back to what you have read before. It’s ideal for rereading. You have the option to bookmark in Kindle if you want to go back to a certain page but it’s too much of a hassle. And the worst part is that you lose reading time if you haven’t charged your Kindle. Hard copies don’t have batteries and that is a good thing.
I also vouch for audiobooks. I was initially skeptical about how one could concentrate while listening to a voice being streamed into your head but it has been an enjoyable experience in the instances I have tried it. I would like to explore that route a bit more.
Thanks, Piya and Roheet! Was a pleasure talking to you both.