Tag Archives: yoda press

Why Read? by Charles Dantzig. Translated from the French by Renuka George

Why Read by Charles DantzigTitle: Why Read?
Author: Charles Dantzig
Translated from the French by Renuka George
Publisher: Yoda Press
ISBN: 978-9382579564
Genre: Books about Books, Bibliophilia
Pages: 206
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 stars

Why does one read? Why does anyone read at all? What is the purpose and point of it all? Is it a pointless activity? Does it add to our knowledge or does it enhance us as people? If we think about the other spectrum, then why do writers write? What is the point of it all?

Charles Dantzig was a revelation to me this month. Thanks to Yoda Press for publishing him in English and sending me a copy of delightful essays penned by him, answering the one elusive question in various ways: Why Read? I love books about books, books about reading, books about readers and writers, and writing in general. Why Read? is a book that will stay with me for a long time to come.

Dantzig is hilarious. He is real, and therefore oh so relatable. There are about seventy-odd essays in the book and each of them ponders about the pleasures, woes, ill-effects (you must have to embrace his humour as well), joys, complexities, and sometimes also the pains of reading. Dantzig’s world is all about books and that is seen most clearly, as you turn the pages. Whether he is speaking of his childhood reads, or how people read to show off (just too funny), how reading is a tattoo, the joys of marginalia, reading on the beach (what and how), every essay shines. Well, most of them at least.

Renuka George’s translation is perfect. She lets some French reside in the book so it doesn’t feel too translated (if there is something like that). The book is honest in the sense that Dantzig just says it the way it is, almost in most parts not romanticising the act of reading. While I did not agree with him when it came to those portions, I certainly felt that it made sense and rightly so. At the same time, there is a sense of solidarity when it comes to readers and books about books that speak to them.

Reading Why Read? is almost like hearing a friend speak about books, authors, and readers. Why Read? is comforting, hilarious, makes you think about what you want to read next, makes you also want to pick up a book on an unknown impulse, but above all it cements the relationship we have with books, authors, and reading stronger and does so with great joy and splendour.

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Book Review: Would You Like Some Bread With That Book? And Other Instances of Literary Love by Veena Venugopal

Would-You-Like-Some-Bread-With-That-Book Title: Would You Like Some Bread With That Book? And Other Instances of Literary Love
Author: Veena Venugopal
Publisher: Yoda Press
ISBN: 9788190666855
Genre: Non-Fiction, Literature, Reading, Books
Pages: 120
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4/5

Books about books and reading always fascinate me. It almost reminds me of the huge community we are – a community of readers. A community that can never go out of style (Hey! It is not a fad you know) and primarily a sense of togetherness that comes with it, knowingly or unknowingly. So I am always on the lookout for books about books. To read about someone else’s experience about reading and what books mean to them. It is a feeling I cannot describe. From reading Alberto Manguel’s thoughts on reading to discovering newer books and authors like this one.

I must admit that I picked up, “Would You like Some Bread with That Book? And Other Instances of Literary Love” by Veena Venugopal, primarily for the title. I could not see how a reader could go wrong with such a book, or for that matter, how a writer could go wrong with writing a book on literary love. The book proved me right. Not at all times, but mostly, it did.

From returning to rereading, “To Kill a Mocking Bird” in her childhood home (the only essay in the book which brought me to tears) to talking about books she read during her pregnancy and the impact they had on her, each essay is personal and unique, which lends the much required warm and funny tone to the book.

While I rushed through the book (and read each and every word), there were times I felt that Veena also rushed with the writing. This thought came to me only with chapters seven and eight, which I did not like as much when compared to the others. The one titled, “Love in the Aisles” is my favourite, where she speaks of finding love in bookstores. It is funny and it is one essay, every book lover, bibliophile and reader will so relate to. The chapter on Saudi Arabia and the books on the country are fascinating, heart-breaking and ironical all at the same time. Veena sure has the eye for details and how to weave them into words.

Books on books also serve a huge purpose – that of discovery. Every time I read a book about books, I end up knowing a whole lot of new authors and books which I would not have otherwise, or probably I would know of them but would not read them. A fresh perspective is always nice, and then it is the individual’s choice to accept or dismiss a read.
I laughed out the loudest when I came across a part in the book, where Veena dismisses what everyone else is reading. The literary snob is truly a rare breed and should be respected, according to me. It is may be because I am one. I would never judge someone basis what they read, but I would never read that author. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

What Veena does in the book, is what every reader can relate to – she makes books her own. She possesses them and talks about them with most admiration and adoration. She makes you relate to everything written and that very few authors manage to do. All in all, “Would You Like Some Bread With That Book? And Other Instances of Literary Love” is a small gem, not to be missed, especially if you like reading and love books.

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