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A peek into the bookshelves of a few authors

While sharing, the authors also gave us a glimpse of their bookshelves — an important aspect of every book lover’s DNA! 
While sharing, the authors also gave us a glimpse of their bookshelves — an important aspect of every book lover’s DNA!

Priyanka Roy (t2 Intern)   |     |   Published 16.08.20, 06:01 PM

Reading means different things to different people. While for some it begins as an escape turning into an escapade with every turn of the page, for others it is a lust for the unknown, resulting in imbibing every ounce of new knowledge. While authors are mostly asked about their writing, The Telegraph asked seven authors about their reading habits. While sharing, the authors also gave us a glimpse of their bookshelves — an important aspect of every book lover’s DNA! 

Nandana Dev Sen

Nandana Dev Sen, who has authored six children’s books, defines herself as a “gluttonous, indiscriminate, compulsive and incurable” reader. Giving us a peek into her bookshelves, she says, “Books have always invaded, multiplied in, and taken over any place I’ve lived in. My shelves are messy, spilling over with books stacked in every direction. Each of my three homes (in three continents) is overrun with books, but the bookshelves in “Bhalobasha” (her mother Nabaneeta Dev Sen’s house) have always stood out for their sheer versatility. On any given shelf, you could find Bangla classics, Victorian novels, Sanskrit scriptures, bilingual European poetry. All huddled next to each other. I definitely inherited my obsession with books from Ma.”

Dharini Bhaskar

Dharini Bhaskar, who debuted with the novel These, Our Bodies, Possessed By Light, says, “My earliest memories revolve around the bookshelves, stretching floor to ceiling, in my parents’ home.” After setting up a home, the first furniture she bought was a bookshelf. She says, “Everything else arranged itself around my first acquisition. This bookshelf is shaped like a honeycomb — a design that communicates my faith in the interconnectedness of stories. It houses my beloved books — those with notes scribbled along the margins, and with dried petals. The bookshelves kept multiplying. A long and towering one that holds works of poetry, collected during my travels. An inherited, rose wood and regal one that holds an assortment of loves — from travel to child psychology. An all yellow one, carrying the stuff of my toddler’s dreams — Bernard Duisit, Kaori Takahashi, and tales published by Enchanted Lion. The bookshelves I own are my anchors, steadying me when life feels overwhelming. They are also magic carpets, whisking me off to new worlds.”

Lavanya Lakshminarayan

Lavanya Lakshminarayan, who launched her first book Analog/ Virtual: And Other Simulations of Your Future in 2020, says, “My childhood home spilled over with books of every kind. I’ve travelled with them, moved houses with them, and lost myself within their pages. The soul of my apartment is a bookshelf dedicated to my biggest influences — Ursula K Le Guin, Ted Chiang, Jeff VanderMeer and Alan Moore and others. A few treasured books also reside here, including the collected works of Lewis Carroll, Beatrix Potter and A.A. Milne. My shelves are sorted by genre, arranged alphabetically by author, and peppered with collectibles. However, my Kindle library has become irreplaceable, especially through the pandemic. While I love the feel of a paperback or hardcover, I can’t imagine my life without instant access to my entire library.”

Deepa Agarwal

Deepa Agarwal, who has written many books belonging to the genre of children’s literature such as Caravan To Tibet and Journey to the Forbidden City, shares, “As a reader, I pick books according to my current mood. I also need research material for my writing, so my shelves stock a wide variety, from thrillers to historical fiction, children’s books in different genres to classics, information books on topics like culture, history or nature. My bookshelves are arranged specifically so I can locate a particular book without wasting time. Thus, I have separate shelves for poetry, short story collections, classics, traditional tales, non-fiction… and, of course, my own writing.”

Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi

Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi, who penned books titled The Last Song of Dusk, The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay and The Rabbit and The Squirrel, says, “I’m a boring reader, which is to say I read the same books repeatedly. I’d have read The English Patient 50 times now; Beloved, at least 12. At my writing studio in Mumbai my library has Philip Roth, W.G Sebald, most of Capote, including various biographies. I am not a promiscuous reader. My ring of books is small. But I revisit each one often. You read more deeply the second time around. After the 10th, it’s a love story. A book I recently read was Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday, essential reading, a master class in fiction, and in tenderness.”

Sandip Roy

Sandip Roy, author of the 2015 title Don’t Let Him Know, says, “My family got me bookshelves for my birthday because they were tired of my book piles all over the house after I overflowed the existing bookshelves. And for a minute I organised them neatly. However, as books multiplied like rabbits, I ended up with book piles on the bookshelves as well. When I see people pose in front of immaculately organised bookshelves, now that so many literary events happen on Zoom, I feel quite embarrassed about my book towers. But sometimes a book pile can actually look quite cool like the year we had a book pile Christmas tree. But don’t ask me how long it took to disassemble and return the books to the shelves!”

Paro Anand

Paro Anand, who has many children’s and young adult’s books to her credit like I’m Not Butter Chicken, The Tree with a Travelling Heart and Like Smoke: 20 Teens 20 Stories considers herself to be a “random reader”. She further explains, “So, my bookshelf is pretty random as well. I will pull any book off the shelf and dive right in. But I also give myself the freedom to discard a book if I don’t feel like sticking with it. I keep thinking I should curate my bookshelf, organise it by alphabetical order, genre, or anything. I have been thinking about doing that for maybe 20 odd years. I may get to it in another 40, when I am 100 years old. But I finally do have a wonderful little Roald Dahl-esq little cottage at the bottom of my garden where I disappear to read and write.”

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