Let’s daydream about the culture of reading in
: When I walk out of my house, I find a small library in every few lanes. People are so eager to read that they pay for borrowing books. These libraries lend books on daily rental fees. Pakistan
Due to these trends, even general stores have started keeping books: the cold corner in my neighborhood makes more money selling books than it does on ice cream. The topics of books on these counters range from fiction and poetry to general history.
If this is just about shops which are not even book stores then you can imagine what proper book stores are like. There are at least three or four big ones (and a few book rentals) in every major market of the country.
Films and popular television serials spawn several unofficial tie-in books published by amateurs. These books also sell well, so nobody can say that the popularity of film or television is cutting down on people’s reading habits.
Publishers are growing like mushrooms, and there are more of them in low-income areas. In any such vicinity, you would easily find ten to thirty people who have published at least one small book in their lives.
Children read books because everybody is talking about them: if they don’t catch up on the latest fiction published for children in Urdu then they would have little to discuss with friends at school, most of whom are found comparing their favorite authors with others’.
Before you read the next paragraph, take a few moments and ask yourself: Would you like to see it happen? Would you like to be part of any effort to make it happen? How much time and resources would you be willing to spare, personally, if a serious effort was made to this end? But do you that this is possible in
any time in the future? Pause here and answer these questions before you read the next paragraph. Pakistan
Now consider the irony. This is not a fantasy about the future of
but about its past. This is what our society used to be in the 1960s, 1970s and the early 1980s. Remember? Pakistan
- Why do you think this has changed? What went wrong?
Picture at top right shows the fiction-writer Ibne Safi (right) at Aziz Library, Nazimabad, in 1963. The thirtieth death anniversary of Ibne Safi passed yesterday, July 26, 2010.