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Lack of libraries, less literary events seen reasons behind decline in reading culture

02:44 AM Nov 01, 2023 IST | Gulzar Bhat
lack of libraries  less literary events seen reasons behind decline in reading culture
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Shopian, Oct 31: Khufiya, a recent Bollywood film by Vishal Bhardwaj evoked Raja Zaid’s interest in reading Escape to Nowhere, an espionage fiction authored by Amar Bushan.

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Zaid, a young university student visited a nearby book shop in his hometown of Shopian but could not find the book. One by one he visited at least 10 book stores in the town, but to no avail.

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“The shelves of all book shops were stuffed with text books only,” said Zaid.

The literary landscape of the district shines with the works of luminaries like Naji Munawar, Shameem Ahmad Shameem, Amin Kamil, Abdul Sattar Ranjoor, Arjun Dev Majboor and others.

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However, it is symptomatic of people losing their interest in book reading the way literary works of prominent poets and writers are vanishing from the major book stores.

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Nasir Amin, owner of Unique Bookshop and Stationary says that when he established the shop a few years ago, he made available magnum opus of some literary giants. However, he did not find any buyers, spurring him to stop the sale of such books.

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“There is hardly any demand of such books”, says Nasir. According to Nasir, the future generation had lost interest in book reading. “And those who read books, they read them online”, he said.

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Jan Nisar Ahmad, general secretary of JK Maraz Kamraz Academy told Greater Kashmir that the literary functions “serve as catalyst to cultivate literary taste among the people”.

“But it is very unfortunate that only few such events are now organised in the area”, he said.

Jan Nisar said that there was no dearth of writers and good literature, but the number of readers had significantly declined over the years.

“It is not only about Shopian. The situation is similar in other places”, he said.

Jan Nisar said that although people preferred to read online, the overall reading culture had taken a hit.

A public library in the town was established in 1972 housing hundreds of books. However, it continues to operate from a rented building and is devoid of a reading room.

Many readers complain that there is no visible signage put up on the building, making it difficult for the readers to locate it

“Public libraries are crucial in fostering reading culture, but unfortunately one of the main libraries is lying in a rundown state”, said Arshad Aziz, a PhD scholar working on Post Colonial literature.

He said that the rickety racks and lack of a reading room dissuaded readers from visiting the library.

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