Reading Corner with Ruth Naymat Gill

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Ruth Naymat Gill is a conservationist, an explorer and traveler. She loves to read and write. She is a storyteller when she shares her own experiences with others.

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

I really cannot point out a certain time or incident but I can safely say that I started reading from a very young age. Initially, it was just the short stories compiled for children from the Holy Bible. Then my father bought these story books from Urdu Bazar for us that included a story of Omru Ayar as well. Then he started bringing story books from the library for us. However, what I relish from those early days of reading is when I devoured books from my father’s collection. Those were mostly history and war books and I was not supposed to read them but then I could hardly restrain myself. I inherited this habit from my father and now that he is not with me, I regard this as my connection with him that is going to stay with me as long as I live.

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

I usually read whatever comes my way without regarding the genre it belongs to. But I must admit that I enjoy fiction a lot, it is like an escape to another parallel world where problems are the same as we deal with in our daily lives but set in a world which is pretty unknown to us. Hence the possibilities of dealing with those problems are different too. I think fiction can help us to be creative about dealing with life. You see, in way or another fiction is actually inspired by the real world so why not. If I want to think like hobbit and want to eat before I think of a way out, no one should have a problem. Food makes you happy.

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

There are way too many brilliant Aha moments I have encountered, however I would like to mention the moment in which Frodo was almost going to kill the Gollum but then he remembered Gandalf’s advice and left him alive, and we all know how that epic story ends. This taught me how life provides every highly charged situation as an opportunity to become a better person by choosing to do what is right irrespective of the actions of others. We are not responsible for them but we are certainly responsible for saving ourselves by letting them have another opportunity.

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

No, I don’t want to do that ever. Each book written is a perspective of its writer which s/he has decided to share with the world with a lot of courage. All readers perceive or relate with it differently in their own personal fashion. I don’t want to take that away from both the writer and the reader.

Do you have an emotional bond with any specific books? What caused that bond?

I believe I have developed this bond with the main character of Across Five Aprils as I could relate to him greatly. The book proved to be an encouragement whenever I felt confused and the way the main character handles his questions is exactly how I do too. So it was like, Oh I am not alone and this is not insane. Haha.

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

I have read Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Dafoe like twenty times and only stopped when I donated the book. My ultimate favorites are Pride and Prejudice and the Harry Potter Books. It’s kind of like an addiction. Each summer I feel this urge to delve into the regency England as described by Austen in Pride and Prejudice. For Harry Potter, I can only say that I just have to go through it once a year. I have been unable to finish ‘The bastard of Istanbul’. I just couldn’t get the feel of that one. And another one is Udaas Nasleen, it’s quite popular but I had to give it up because of the abusive language used in it. One might think that it is an immature reason but growing up I had been shielded from any kind of abusive language and I learned not to hear it too. So my mind never got to work that out into developing an understanding of such language and reading it in my own language made it harder to just let go of the words without being sensitive to them. It was just too heavy for me. It has been seven years now that I have touched that book. However, I am thinking now to give it another try. No, I don’t think so!

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

I cannot really say if I have a favorite writer but I really liked Jane Austen’s work. I have read all of her novels. There is a certain way with her that makes her writings light and wise at the same time. I do not have much experience of Pakistani writers. Most of them were introduced to me back in school. I have only read short stories and excerpts. But I have read a lot of Anayat Ullah’s works in which he recorded stories of the war heroes of 1965 and 1971. I don’t know if he is much recognized or not.

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

Well these are certainly not short stories but I would recommend ‘Song of the Silent Harp’ and ‘Across Five Aprils’ to the readers. These books and many others similar to these two had been a great experience for me. And I believe it will be for others too.

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