Shaila Abdullah is the author of Saffron Dreams and Beyond the Cayenne Wall
What are you reading these days?
My eight-year-old daughter and I recently finished a YA novel, Out of My Mind by two-time Coretta Scott King Award winning author, Sharon Draper. It is an extraordinary story of Melody, an 11-year old girl with cerebral palsy with above average intelligence, who finds a way to express herself through the efforts of her parents, a dedicated babysitter, and a few others who believe in her abilities. The book is a compassionate look into a subject most people shy away from and refuse to discuss.
Which books are on your bedside table?
Quite a few. South Asian Review: Volume 31, Six Metres of Pavement by Farzana Doctor, and Broken Verses by Kamila Shamsie.
Which titles are on your bucket list of books?
I am still compiling the list. Here are a few titles on there: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, A Life Less Ordinary by Baby Halder, Friendship with God by Neale Donald Walsch, Patna Roughcut by Siddharth Chowdhury, Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh, and The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.
What is the one book/author you feel everyone must read?
Eckhart Tolle. He is one of the most inspiring authors I have ever come across. His book, The Power of Now, defined a new moment in my life. The key message in the book is to seize, harness, and be aware of the moment we are living in while letting go of the painful history of the past. Another book by Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, shows how the transformation he proposed in The Power of Now can be applied to an entire community and the world around you. Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch and Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse are few other favourites of mine.
What are you planning to reread?
I re-read One Amazing Thing by Chitra Divakaruni who is a good friend. It is a story that inspires you to think of that one memorable story you will recall at the end of your life.
Every few years, I pick up books by Tolle and Walsch and read them again. In the fiction category I often revisit Cracking India by Bapsi Sidhwa, The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, Arranged Marriage by Chitra Divakaruni, Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid, and Maps for Lost Lovers by Nadeem Aslam.
What is the one book you started reading but could not finish?
The Geometry of God by Uzma Aslam Khan although it has nothing to do with the story, subject matter, or the style of the writer. As a busy mom and a working woman, I get pulled in many directions. One of these days, I aim to finish the book.
What is your favourite childhood book or story?
In Karachi, my childhood home was filled with books. Reading was not only encouraged but actively demonstrated by my father, who is a deep thinker and a habitual reader. As a child, I needed books like oxygen. A good Enid Blyton book could render my entire day magical and full of promise. The Enchanted Woods by Enid Blyton was my favorite series.
I still get nostalgic when I read those books with my daughter.