Reading Corner with Faisal Nadeem

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Faisal Nadeem Sheikh is an auditor by trade and an avid reader.

How and when did you develop an interest in reading? What is the importance of this habit in your life?

I developed an interest in reading in 2004 when I started additional English lessons from a teacher in Lahore. Failing in my final exam, I had to repeat the fifth grade for a period of 3 months. My teacher Miss Saima Khokhar, worked some very long hours for me to get a grasp on the English language. She used to give me these enormous comprehensions and I used to get lost in them. This was probably because I had never read so much or actually tried to do so. One thing led to another and I was finally grabbing every book I could lay my hands on. The first was a complete set of Shakespeare. My reading habit acts as an important reminder of the time when I could hardly pass an exam. Reading pulled me up from whatever pit of doom I was sitting in.

When it comes to genre, which one do you prefer reading the most? Reason for this preference?

Most of my time is spent reading epic fantasy, mostly revolving around war. I bought a very fat book on Napoleon Bonaparte during an expo in Fortress Stadium Lahore a long time ago. Reading about war from such a detailed perspective got me hooked.

Recall an Aha moment(s) you had while reading. How has that changed your perspective to life?

The aha moment came when I was reading about the battle of Waterloo and the British along with the Austrians flanked Napoleon on the second day. The writer wrote that the battle was wrapped and done only the men Napoleon had to work with were not capable enough to follow his genius on the field otherwise he would have been emperor of Europe once more. It changed my view on every story I would read after that. There is always the chance to lose it all in one throw of the dice.

If you were to re-write a book that you have read, which one would you? Why would you change it?

I would never choose to rewrite any book at all. Every character ever thought off has a reason behind what they do. Changing even the most infitismal of details would be sacrilege.

Do you have an emotional bond with any specific book(s)? What caused that bond?

Brida by Paulo Coelho. When I read this book everything probably changed for me. At 22 Paulo probably makes no sense and is probably even depressing to read but for a teenager it’s a very different experience altogether. The combination of mysticism and love is just too intoxicating.

Do you keep going back to any book(s)? Why? Any book(s) you have not been able to finish? Why?

I keep going back to the translation of the Arabian Nights by Sir Richard Burton. That book is an exotic one and the descriptions and notes always leave me astounded. There is so much material in that one book that every time I read a portion of it I find something new and it’s been going on for a very long time now.

Who are your favourite writers? Any writer(s) you think are under rated? Your favourite Pakistani writer(s)?

To date, I rate Robert Jordan as the best writer I have read. As for Pakistani writers, there is none better that Musharraf Ali Farooqi and Muhammad Hanif.

Any short stories or essays that you would like to recommend to our readers?

I’d recommend your readers Edger Allen Poe’s short stories. Dark though they may be but they sure make a good past time.

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