Who’s reading what: Kankana Basu, Novelist

"Every good book read changes forever your perception of your inner and outer worlds", says Kankana Basu.

What are you reading now and what were the last couple of books you read?

Currently, I’m reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, Jo Nesbo’s Redbreast and Arthur C Clarke’s Childhood’s End. The Goldfinch has taken me months to read simply because the quality of prose is so extraordinary that I find myself going back to certain passages over and over again. Before these, I was lucky to chance upon three phenomenally good books — All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Barbara Kingsolver’s tour de force The Poisonwood Bible and None Other by Krishna Baldev Vaid.

Any particular reason for picking up these titles?

I was passing through the Goa airport some time ago and found the bookstore stacked mile high with copies of Milkman by Anna Burns. Added to this was all the literary hype that surrounds a new work of writing. Generally not led by hype, I gave in nonetheless, and Milkman is lined up as my next read. Also, Haruki Murakami’s South of the Border, West of the Sun.

What was the big takeaway?

Every good book read changes forever your perception of your inner and outer worlds. Gives you a fresh stream of consciousness, a new vocabulary, plumbs the depths of your potential and evokes sensibilities that you probably never even knew existed.

Do you read on a device or do you prefer a physical copy?

I am one of those permanently-stuck-in-the-bell-bottom-era kind of person. I love all things retro- music, literature, cinema… My son gifted me a Kindle and I did read a couple of books on it. But nothing, I realised, can quite compare to the feel of a real book in your hands, and the aroma of paper. So it’s the traditional physical copy of books for me.

When and where do you prefer to do your reading?

The stillness of afternoons, when all physical activities are suspended temporarily, and late night hours when the entire household is slumbering — these are the hours when my mental faculties feel most potent and receptive. I’m a post-lunch, post-dinner reader. I always have a pencil handy to mark exceptional passages and I scribble a lot in the margins. I read in bed surrounded by mountains of pillows and cushions and with a big flask of kadak Mumbaiyya chai next to me.

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