Some 10 months ago, I had written about the National Book Fair held at Kasturchand Park, Nagpur. I had bought 11 books—bulky 1800 pages—back then. I read some of them, and I left a few. And here comes back the National Book Fair again. It’s currently being held at the same place. It has become an integral part of my being in Nagpur and I have been visiting it consistently for 10 years now. My patterns of reading have changed; the trends of my book-shopping have changed; what has not changed is the same enthusiasm with which I rush myself to the fair as soon as I know of it.
The fair seemed a bit smaller this year; the number of stalls seemed to have decreased. Maybe, it’s because it is being held second time this year rather than the usual once a year; or maybe, I had overheard once a shopkeeper saying “there isn’t much sale here in Nagpur; Bangalore etc. are much better.” I’m not sure of the exact reason. But I missed many stalls this time. There was no stall of Sahitya Akademi, Bharatiya Jnanpeeth, or National Book Trust. Last time, a bulk of my shopping was from the these three publishers.
I’d made some rules for myself this time. The reasons were apparent. Many times, I could not find time and interest to read what I buy. Many times, mostly in case of old classics, I can get the copies from internet for free and I can have a look at them before actual buying. I strategy was:
- #I would not buy a nonfiction. There are already a few half-read pending in row.
- #I will mostly buy Marathi books, and not English as usual. I have quite a big collection of English nonfiction and my Marathi reading has suffered quite a lot over the last few years. I wanted it changed.
- #Limit the quantity. Don’t buy a book if you can get it anytime you need. This was again especially for nonfictions.
With my self-made rules, there was a lot to explore, but very little to buy. My shopping was not as voluminous this time, but short and sweet. I bought only two books, two literary essay collections of Poet Grace—चर्चबेल and संध्यामग्न पुरुषाची लक्षणे. I have already bought another collection of his essays “मितवा” last year in such another book fair.
One interesting thing I noted was a book stall of “Falun Dafa.” It is a newly founded spiritual movement in China and the Chinese Government bans it strictly. Even a simple Google search of “Falun Dafa” can cause you internet breakdown on the Chinese land. I had seen one of their performances at Deekshabhoomi some 4-5 years ago, but it was quite interesting to see them preaching their thoughts here.
Again, interestingly, I found a book stall particularly dedicated to Urdu literary books. Over the years, I have seen here Urdu books mostly on Islamic Studies, but this time, there were a lot of cartoon books and child literature too. It was a pleasant surprise to see titles like पुराणों की कहानियां, उडनेवाला गेंडा, आदित्य: समंदरी लडका and बंजारा लडके in Urdu.
Overall, the experience of National Book Fair this time was not that great—mostly because of the less number of book stalls—but still an enjoyable one, and with a few surprises.