Books

Hitler's book among the most read in Assam survey on lockdown reading

Different editions of Adolf Hitler's

Different editions of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" are on display at the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich. File photo   | Photo Credit: AP

Classics, epics trump modern writers as most readers preferred printed to e-books

Adolf Hitler has been among the most read writers along with William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy, Bengali novelist Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay and multi-genre Assamese author Lakshminath Bezbaroa, a survey of book-reading during the COVID-19 lockdown revealed.

It also pointed at readers preferring books in paperback or hardbound form to digital, although some did get used to reading e-papers because of non-delivery of dailies during the lockdown.

Besides, a majority of the 166 people from 23 districts who responded to the survey chose the classics and epics while non-fiction by modern writers ruled. The last category included the works of Nobel Prize winners – Argumentative Indian by Amartya Sen and Poor Economics by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo.

“The online survey over three days was conducted last week for people from 16 years to beyond 60. Of the respondents, 55% were men and 45% women from all sections, including home-makers and the unemployed,” said Tapati Baruah Kashyap of the Guwahati-based North-East Centre for Training, Advocacy & Research (NECTAR).

The centre focuses on personality development, providing reading space to bibliophiles, lending books and organising weekly discussions or debates among the senior citizens on pre-assigned topics.

While 69% of the respondents read printed books, 7% read e-books and the remaining 24% read a combination of printed and e-books, the survey revealed.

“About 38% of them read four books, 17% three books and 20% two books during the lockdown, which gave them an opportunity to open books they could not after buying them long ago,” Ms. Kashyap told The Hindu, adding that the survey covered books in Assamese, Bengali and English.

Anna Karenina, War and Peace

What caught the notice of the surveyors was Hitler’s Mein Kampf among the popular books alongside Anna Karenina and War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, Emma by Jane Austen, the works of Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and noted Assamese authors such as Mamoni Raisom Goswami, Syed Abdul Malik and Homen Borgohain.

The non-fiction books read ranged from topics such as economics, science, nature, health, literary criticism and gardening. Some went for motivational books as well as collections of poetry, biographies and autobiographies.

Books on religion, mythology and epics reigned too. These included medieval saint-reformer Srimanta Sankaradeva’s Kirtan-Ghosha, Bhagawat Gita, Markandeya Puran, Katha Ramayan and Katha Mahabharat.

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Printable version | Jul 16, 2020 7:03:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/covid-19-lockdown-hitler-among-the-most-read-in-assam-book-browse-survey/article31677359.ece

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