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An actress who reads

National Award-winning actress Geetanjali Thapa (Liar’s Dice) chatted with t2 about books and heroes on the sets of an ad shoot in Delhi recently...

We hear you’re an avid reader. When did your love affair with books start?

Yeah, I am an avid reader! But I don’t remember at what age I started. I remember reading Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys and then graduating to other things. My parents used to get me picture books. That’s the earliest memory I have.

What are you reading right now?

I am back to the classics right now. I am reading The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I have these random phases and this phase has been on for a while. The problem is that I forget very easily. And I just keep re-reading! Before this, when I was in Istanbul, I was re-reading Orhan Pamuk’s books. I wish I could be one of the heroes or heroines from his books! All his heroines hardly talk and are all so mysterious. I want to be like that! My forgetfulness reminds me of this brilliant sad-funny poem... nothing captures it better — Forgetfulness by Billy Collins!

A book you bought recently?

It was quite a steal actually! I bought this anthology of Tagore’s works. It has Gitanjali, his plays and his short stories. I had a great time reading it. I can just open any page and there is a beautiful poem or a short story. I have read Tagore in school.

Who are your favourite authors?

I really like Milan Kundera. I love the way he writes about relationships. Beautiful. I love Haruki Murakami too. I have read almost all of his fiction. Then I like Edgar Allan Poe… so many.

What’s an instant mood-lifter for you?

Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole series. I find them hilarious. And, also PG Wodehouse. They are authors I can read and laugh out loud. I also try to read some poems. I have been reading Tagore, a bit of Khalil Gibran, Rumi and Pablo Neruda. I also like the film Il Postino, which is about Neruda. I learnt Spanish and that’s when I started to read more of Pablo Neruda because I wanted to understand. I try my best to understand. I flip through a few pages and then I give up and go back to the translations.

You must be having a book in your bag while travelling?

Always! I usually carry whatever book I am reading at that point. And I carry an extra book in case I finish the first one and don’t have anything to read. I think I am a fast reader. When I am free, I just read! That’s bliss!

E-books or regular books?

I need to have a book in my hands. I like flipping through pages, the smell of a book. I like putting a bookmark. So, I like the romance of it all.

A ‘bookish’ hero you love?

When I read Gone with the Wind… Rhett Butler! (Laughs) He is so suave and manly!

Saionee Chakraborty

I’ve been an adult a long time. That is another way of saying I was young a very long time ago. It was, therefore, with some apprehension that I picked up Take Back The Skies by Lucy Saxon, the latest young adult fantasy/sci-fi by Bloomsbury. However, what followed was delightful days of reading about Catherine Hunter.

She’s 15, good with gadgets and excellent with adventure, has a keen sense of justice and keeps her wits about her. She also has a beating heart that gives into the glorious delights of first love, even as she turns back on privilege, runs away from home and makes her way to be a stowaway on a skyship. Her land Anglya is going through war, children above 13 are rounded off on Collection to fight as soldiers and there’s something rotten about the state of things. Catherine finds out what it is — a gory truth — and returns to right the wrong. She unravels one secret after another, the thread leading back to her family and she does the right thing, despite the whirlpool of emotional distress it throws her into.

Midway through the book I turn back to find out more about Lucy Saxon. I had wanted my reading of the book to be uninfluenced by my reading of the author, but, well.... She is 19! She lives in Hertfordshire and is into cosplay (where fans wear costumes to depict different characters or ideas from popular culture). If one day her Twitter feed reads: “Me: Today is the day I tidy up and sort my life out. Me: *Spends 3 hours reading fanfiction*”, the next day she’s retweeting pictures from her book’s launch party... yes, in full costume. I’m excited.

This book has kept me up till 3am, this book has woken me up at 6am (though a little matter of deadline also played a teeny-tiny part). And all because of the story — pleasant, gripping, original and eminently readworthy. By the last pages, Catherine Hunter’s grown two more years. One of the main protagonists is dead and this is a series!

To those who say the writing style is young, I repeat that’s because the writer IS young. And it makes her story all the more credible. A little willing suspension of disbelief and you’re in for a good read. I want to know what happens next. I also know now that Saxon finished writing the book by the time she was 16 and is working on the rest of it. Bring it on girl, while I tick on Twitter to follow your feed.

Anindita Mitra