Saturday, July 18, 2020

The Bookshelf Series 3 - Dr Rajendra Nargundkar

Raja is a Professor, author and an avid reader of books. What I like best about Raja is that apart from buying, owning and reading a wide variety of books and enjoying all genres, he is very generous with his books. I have several of his books on my bookshelf today that he shared with me after he finished reading (unlike most people I know who don't share books at all). This book sharing is a very rare trait and I found it a refreshing change, something to emulate.

Raja and one of his many bookshelves
Mostly Raja loves funny books and all sorts of fiction and non-fiction (biography especially). I also remember him liking the MAD comics. Like most book lovers he also loves watching movies. Now, without further ado, let's dive into his bookshelf.

HM. How did your reading habit start?
RN: Books lying around at home, and the fact that my parents subscribed to magazines for kids in Marathi. I read anything I could lay my hands on, including magazines in Marathi, newspapers, ...

HM: Who influenced you early on to read?
RN: Parents first, friends in school (we had a good library too) and cousins later. Some teachers, much later.

HM. What were the books that impacted you most? How?
RN: The truth be told, it was comics- Mandrake was an early favourite, with Phantom second. Later, it was Asterix..that continues. Then it was pulp fiction, mainly mysteries by Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, and action mysteries by Erle Stanley Gardner, Rex Stout. Non-fiction came fairly late. Osho and J. Krishnamurty were most impactful, many others at different points in time. Biographical books. One about Leela Naidu, another on Michael Caine, one on SD Burman, Kishore Kumar.

HM: Could you share the list of your top 10-15-25 books?
RN: The list

1. My Family and Other Animals,
2. Almost any book by Agatha Christie (The ABC Murders recently),
3. Down Under by Bill Bryson,
4. Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,
5. Any book by P.G. Wodehouse (Summer Lightning?),
6. Sherlock Holmes mysteries,
7. Any book by Rex Stout (Nero Wolfe as a character is a favourite),
8. Erle Stanley Gardner/A.A. Fair (Perry Mason, and Bertha Cool mysteries),
9. Norwegian Wood and a few others by Murakami,
10. Marathi humour by Pu. La. Deshpande (Vyakti ani Valli),
11. Marathi sci-fi I read early on by Narayan Dhaarap,
12. Humour collection- Mulla Naseeruddin stories,
13. Asterix (all of them),
14. Almost anything by Osho.
15. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson.
16. Some books about music, like on RD Burman, SD Burman, Kishore Kumar, Pran, Helen, Mehmood,..a surprise was a book by Woody Allen (Without Feathers)
17. Zorba the Greek
18. The 100 year ol man who climbed out of the window and disappeared 

HM. Who are your favourite authors - top 5?
RN: P.G. Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, Dave Barry (in Marathi, Lai bhaari), Osho, Rex Stout.

HM: How many books do you read on an average per year these days?
RN: 12-15 these days. Some are bought and remain unread/partially read, so I buy around 30-40. (In the lockdown since March 2020, I read more..two or three per month).

HM. How many books do you own?
RN: Too many, and counting..

HM: What are the books you are reading currently?
RN: Re-reading Agatha Christie, Gardner, Stout as I can't go to bookstores due to a lockdown. Have read a few about Digital Media (The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki is a good one) and Digital Marketing in the last year or so. Also, The Shooting star by a solo woman traveller and blogger, Shivya Nath.

HM: What's next on your list?
RN: Nothing in particular..I generally browse at a bookstore, and buy whatever catches my fancy.

HM: What are the books you have been meaning to read but have kept pending? 
RN: All those fat ones.
HM: What's the one book you value the most? 
Another angle
RN: I used to value a Rex Stout collection of stories I had, but I lost it.

HM: What's the best book-gift you got?
RN: A Rex Stout collection (6 in one), from my uncle.

HM: What's the one book you regret losing?
RN: Two, actually. Flatland (a Mathematical comedy), and Class (a satire on our class systems-upper, middle etc.)

HM: What's the favourite book that you gift people?
RN: Depends on the person- a recent one I gifted was The Man Called Ove. I have also gifted Murakami's books, and Dave Barry's in the past.

HM: Your favourite experience around books, if any?
RN: Friendships that have been made because of them, from childhood in the coal-mines till today. I met a friend for the first time in a bookstore in Bangalore last year..we had only met online earlier. Reading reviews of books is another good experience, though I rarely buy one because of a review-it's an independent hobby to read reviews.

HM: If there's an author you would like to write like, who would it be? 
RN: No doubts about this. P.G. Wodehouse.
HM: What's your favorite place to shop for books?
RN: Any physical bookstore that does not just stock "bestsellers"..some airport shops have surprised me. Church Street, Bangalore is a current favourite. It has two stores I like-Bookworm and Blossoms.

HM: Any other thoughts around books?
RN: Yes. I hate reading online or on devices. Haven't done a single book that way.

Thanks for sharing Raja. Your shelf is one of those that has a wide variety to suit all tastes. I can happily spend a month or two just reading up the books on your shelf. Must do that some time.

1 comment:

Rajendra said...

Welcome, anytime we are allowed- COVID constraints.