Literary love: Are young people reading again?

While some speakers at World Book Day mourn the death of reading habits, a professor dissents.

Our Correspondent April 24, 2012

KARACHI: On this date in 1616, literary giants such as William Shakespeare died. Today Unesco marks this as World Book Day, which is celebrated worldwide.

At the Karachi University, a seminar organised by the Library and Information Science department brought together people from diverse professions connected through their interest in books.

Among them were department head Prof. Malahat Kaleem Sherwani, bureaucrat and novelist Hashim Nadeem Khan whose ‘Bachpan Ka December’ and ‘Abdullah’ helped draw young people back to Urdu literature, educationist and playwright Shahana Jamshed, former cricketer Jalaluddin, KU journalism professor Dr Mehmood Ghaznavi and Habib Abbasi, who runs a 102-year old bookshop in Jodia Bazar.

Hashim Nadeem Khan said he feels depressed when he doesn’t read. “Reading fiction is essential to understand life and its intricacies,” said Khan. Dr Ghaznavi added that the insight acquired through studying history, philosophy and literature helps build a family.

While insisting upon the importance of reading for sports players, including cricketers, Jalaluddin said that he would read biographies of cricketers. As a coach, he now reads up on sports psychology.

While many speakers engaged in the usual lamenting that people don’t read anymore, Prof. Sherwani didn’t agree. “Reading habits have improved, especially in young people who can be seen at book expos, literature festivals and even at temporary book stalls,” she told The Express Tribune.

For Prof. Sherwani, public libraries play a vital role because varying socio-economic states do not allow people to invest in reading.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2012.


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