Today A Reader, Tomorrow A Leader!

Today A Reader, Tomorrow A Leader!

Today A Reader, Tomorrow A Leader!

When it comes to giving a present to someone, we have a slew of thoughts running through our heads, and we end up with confusion. So, why not go for a gift that is both inexpensive and readily available? One of the nicest gifts through which you can convey sentiment and humour in the same way that a card can, but they are so much more as well! They can help the giver speak things that he/she might find difficult to say otherwise.

It is often said that the human resource potential of a country is directly proportional with the reading culture in that society. When you give books as gifts, you are also contributing to the spread of that reading culture in your society. Moreover, books are eco-friendlier than any other gifts, because they are bio degradable. Since protection of environment is the prime need of the day, you can have an impact on it by gifting a book. Other benefits of books as gifts are that they do not make you fat like chocolates, wilt and wither away like consumer goods, are one-size-fits-all and are such great investments since they may last a lifetime.

Going back in history, we find that the tradition of gift-books had a long-running hold on the Victorian imagination in the nineteenth century. These lavishly decorated books, bound in silk, leather, velvet or pictorial paperboards and finished with gilt-edged leaves comprised a lucrative publishing market that spanned the 1820-40s in England. They featured poetry, prose, short fictions and engravings by well-known writers like Wordsworth, Browning, Coleridge, Walter Scott, Mary Shelley and others. While these gift books were often dismissed by many as sentimental trifles and have long been regarded by literary historians as meriting little critical attention, in recent years they have come to be viewed as significant cultural products, signaling the trend of increasing commodification of literature.

Personally speaking, some twenty years back I launched a short story collection written by a lovely Malayali lady in Kochi Book Fair. I was travelling on my own and she got hold of me through a common friend. So, she did not have to incur any expenditure on my cost of being present in the function. Perhaps out of gratitude, she gave me dinner and gifted me a book by Andrew O’Hagan. The title of the book was Be Near Me. Is not the gift eloquent enough? Well, it is another matter that I could not remain near her, but the book is still with me as a fragrant piece of memory.

On the flip side, some forty years back I was one day rummaging through the old book shops of the College Street market in Calcutta. Suddenly I chanced upon an old favourite of mine. As I thumbed over the first page, lo and behold, there was an endorsement written in my hand for an ex-girlfriend of mine. Obviously, she had got rid of the book along with her affection for me! Since then, I never write an endorsement on a book page. Rather I insert a card with an endorsement, whenever I gift a book.

Nirmal Kanti Bhattacharjee

Nirmal Kanti Bhattacharjee taught English Literature at Gauhati University for ten years and Comparative Literature at Jadavpur University for five years. He then joined Sahitya Akademi’s Eastern Regional Office at Kolkata as its Secretary. After putting in a decade there, he shifted to Delhi and worked as the Director of the National Book Trust, India for a five-year tenure. Later, he also worked as the Editor of Sahitya Akademi’s prestigious journal Indian Literature for five years and Director of K. K. Birla Foundation, New Delhi for six years. Currently, he functions as the Editorial Director of Niyogi Books. An accomplished translator from Bengali into English and vice versa, his English translations of fictions of Mahasveta Devi, Sunil Gangaopadhyay, and Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay have been well received. He has also translated a short story collection of U. R. Anantamurthy and a novel by Viswas Patil into Bengali. Recipient of the best translator’s award from IBBY Congress, Mr. Bhattacharjee has also edited a collection of stories of displacement from Assam.

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