Always create an opportunity to read - Udara Perera | Sunday Observer

Always create an opportunity to read - Udara Perera

4 October, 2020

Udara Devindi Perera is an aspiring writer, artist and a bookworm. While working at a private bank, she is studying for a MBA from the University of Bedfordshire. She has written and illustrated two children’s story books in English and joins Youth Observer to discuss her favourite book, her reading habits and the present readership in society.


Q: What is your favourite book?

A: At the moment, my favourite book is Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime.

Q: What have you to say about the book?

A: It’s a memoir of the author. Trevor Noah is a South African comedian, television host and an author whose father was white (Swiss) while the mother was black. When Trevor was born, the apartheid system encompassed the whole of South Africa. Marriages between whites and blacks were banned and such a union was punishable by five years imprisonment. In this book, he describes how he was born and how he grew up under the extreme conditions of the apartheid regime and how he had trouble fitting in as it was a crime for him to be born as a mixed-race baby, hence the title of his book.

Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life. His mother had to take extreme and often absurd measures to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of the young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother.

Q: Where did you find the book?

A: A friend told me about it. He read the book and encouraged me to read it.

Q: How did you begin to read?

A: I got used to reading when I was small. Especially in my school days I was a bookworm and regularly borrowed books from the school library. My school was Regent International College, Gampaha. We, as school children, exchanged books with each other too. My mother, Saman Leema Perera who is a journalist, writer and an artist herself encouraged me through the years to read books. However, with work, I got used to read eBooks that I downloaded from the Internet.

Q: Is there any genre that you prefer to read?

A: I prefer to read memoirs, autobiographies and fiction.

Q: Don’t you like classical literature?

A: Definitely I like it but I still have a long way to go. When it comes to the world of literature I have much to read still.

Q: Do you read Sinhala books?

A: I can read Sinhala, but I got used to reading in English from the beginning.

Q: Why aren’t you familiar with Sinhala books?

A: I was born in Abu Dhabi and attended International schools. So, I was unable to get Sinhala books. It’s the same for my elder sister too. She, Achala Rashmini has published six books, but all are in English. Some of her books are The Village by the River and The Candy Town. However, my mother writes and publishes in Sinhala.

Q: Do you think that the younger generation has grown away from literature?

A: Though people buy books, only a limited number of hard copies are sold. Research from universities have also suggested that people no longer have the time or the patience to read, especially, the younger generation are changing what, when and how they read in subtle ways. The new generation is growing up with digital technology at their fingertips where they can read material from the internet such as eBooks. They read books via kindle or any other devices that can download books from the Internet.

Q: What feelings are evoked in you when you read a literary masterpiece?

A: When I’m reading a good book, I automatically feel connected to it. It feels like I am actually there. When I read a good book there are times when I felt as if I was making the choices. When the main character of the book is in conflict, I too was in conflict. When he or she was scared, I was scared. It makes me feel so immersed.

Q: Can you read two books simultaneously?

A: No. I can only read one book at a time.

Q: What can one gain from reading a book?

A: Mainly, you gain knowledge from a book. The more knowledge you have, the better equipped you are to tackle any challenges. It also helps you to expand your vocabulary as you get more exposure the more you read. And lastly, it’s the tranquility and life experiences one can gain from a book. A good book teaches you a good lesson. It teaches you how to overcome obstacles. And especially, you are enlightened or delighted by a book. So, in the end you become successful in the choices you make in life.

Q: How do you select a book to buy or read?

A: I mostly read the blurb on the back cover where you generally find a summary of the book. I also check for the list of best books to read and prefer a much recommended book.

Q: How do you read now?

A: At present, I mainly read eBooks and online pieces as I have limited time to visit bookshops and libraries.

Q: Are you a slow reader or speedy reader?

A: I am speedy reader, but with time constraints it is difficult to finish a book at once. So, it takes at least a week to finish a two-hundred page book.

Q: Currently, what are you reading?

A: The Rosie Project, a novel by Graeme Simsion.

Q: Your advice to readers?

A: I would say start by setting a goal that is easily attainable. Always create an opportunity to read by finding as many books as you can. You can search libraries and online for books too. When you find new books, seek an opportunity to read them and share them with others so that others can enjoy them too. Participate in reading challenges as it will encourage readers to read more books which are quite interactive and fun. For example, Goodreads, which is the world’s largest community of readers, will allow you to discover new books.

Q: What are your future plans in reading and writing?

A: I would like to read more books, and hope to write and illustrate another children’s story book. Both my mother and sister are in the literary field. So, I am very much inspired and hopeful in continuing my ambition in publishing another book for the young readers.