Pages of joy

In these anxious pandemic times, avid readers tell NT BUZZ how books have been providing the much-needed escape while also sharing their favourite recent reads

American novelist Ernest Hemingway rightly said: ‘There is no friend as loyal as a book.’ Indeed, no matter the mood you find yourself in- whether you are feeling down, anxious, joyful, curious, there is always a book that will be just right for you. And in these times of gloom and doom, books have been a saviour to many, allowing them to wander into a different world for a while, articulating the emotions that they didn’t know they were feeling, and helping many a person find their place in this oft confusing world. They have soothed the pain, calmed the anxious, and uplifted spirits again.

During the lockdown I realised that I was doing a lot of doom scrolling so I decided I would read something entirely different. I turned to fiction to escape (it has always been a refuge). I also started reading a lot of essays instead of reading the news because so much of it was (even though important) taking a toll on my mental space. I’d also shifted to a new city all by myself and so I found a particular comfort in ‘The Lonely City’ by Olivia Laing. It helped adjust to the feeling of loneliness and understanding the contours of loneliness. ‘Hamnet’ by Maggie O’Farrell is a book that I am half-way through and absolutely loving.”

Wesley D’Souza, student and bookstagrammer

With all the things happening around, a good read is all it takes to divert your mind from the sad news. Books are like a little getaway into a whole different world. I am currently reading ‘Shantaram’ by Gregory David Roberts which is around 1000 pages and I have truly enjoyed every page of it as it gives you an uncut experience of what actually happens on the streets of Mumbai and how one of our largest cities functions.”

Elijah D’souza, founder, The Booktique Goa

Books have been my greatest source of strength, knowledge and inspiration, especially during these trying times. Being an avid reader in general, books have helped me grow immensely. One novel I would definitely say kept me going during the pandemic was ‘The Mountain Shadow’ which is a sequel to the novel ‘Shantaram’ by Gregory David Roberts. My current book is ‘Think Like A Monk’ by Jay Shetty, a must read for everyone in my opinion.”

Carolyn Nunes, music teacher

I don’t know if I particularly turn to books in bad or anxious times. I turn to books because I love reading. Stories excite me and bring me joy. I’ve been particularly exploring the comics space over the last year and found some wonderful books. ‘Saga’ is a new series I discovered which I instantly fell in love with. I also subscribe to a sci fi website called Daily Science Fiction, which sends me some of the finest short stories every

single day.”

Nathaniel Da Costa, senior manager, Forca Goa Foundation

I think we’ve all understood the importance of art during these trying times. Some people took to web series, others to blogging and some, like me, to books. Reading has always been my go- to, for the past fifteen years, if not more. Every time I needed a sort of escape or if I needed something exciting, I drowned myself in a book. And it’s been beyond helpful because other than helping me de-stress, it also really helps me improve upon my vocabulary. And because I read a lot of historical fiction and texts written by individuals who have been marginalised, I learn from them. It helps me become a better person because I realise, as someone merely reading about these issues and not actually facing them, I am privileged beyond imagination. And I think it’s important to understand that, be grateful and well, and educate those who aren’t aware of such things. That’s also why I started an online book club with my students as part of a lockdown learning initiative introduced by Dhempe College of Arts and Science, Miramar. I think I can speak on behalf of my students when I say it’s been an enriching experience for all of us involved. We’ve gained so much. I don’t think I have favourite reads as such but I have been reading slave narratives and Dalit literature. Narratives written by Harriet Jacobs and Sharankumar Limbale are what I am currently looking at. Both are really informative and

eye opening.”

Rochelle Fernandes, assistant professor, English

I often find it hard to make time to read as I juggle work and personal life. I was fortunate to have that time off during the lockdown. Diving deep into the lives of the characters, crests and troughs in the story plots and finding what happens finally was a real stress buster from the negative energies of the pandemic. Thoroughly enjoyed reading the ‘Ram, Sita & Raavan’ series by Amish Tripathi, ‘Who Will Cry When You Die’ by Robin Sharma, ‘Fake’ by Robert Kiyosaki, ‘The Right Words at the Right Time’ by Marlo Thomas, and ‘Black Swan Green’ by David Mitchell. Years ago, a friend of mine told me that the characters in books help you understand a little bit more about yourself each time you read and this statement comes alive to my mind each time I read. So yes! Books came in handy this lockdown for some soul searching and it was one of the many things I am grateful for during these trying times.”

Hetal Gangani, English teacher

Books have always been my go-to no matter what my mood. When the pandemic hit, books acted as an escape, helping me to calm my nerves and distract myself from all the horrifying things that were happening around the world, at least for a few hours at stretch. I particularly chose to read thrillers as such plots would keep my mind engaged and as a result I wouldn’t constantly be thinking only about the pandemic. Some of my favourite reads include ‘The Girl on the Train’ by Paula Hawkins, ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn, ‘The Silent Patient’ by Alex Michaelides,

among others.”

Senova Fernandes, graduate

Well books have always been my escape so to say, perks of having amazing imaginative powers. So, it’s safe to say I’ve spent almost every waking moment reading the past year. As to what I’ve been reading, it’s mostly regency romance. I’ve also re-read a couple good books.”

Leah Martins, student

(Compiled by Ramandeep Kaur, Christine Machado, and Anna Fernandes)