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In Search of Good Reads

By Padya Paramita

At a time when ebooks and audio books are a mere click away, most of us choose the easier method of reading rather than enjoying the fine print. Many people use the unavailability of good books as an excuse. So where can we visit around Dhaka for a quiet reading time or getting novels by our favourite authors?

Visiting libraries grants you access to books without paying for them or keeping them lying dusty around your house. Once you pay for your membership you can borrow whichever book you please.

For books by English authors, British council library in Fuller Road is obviously the best place. Though the reading area for the younger kids is now just a small corner in the adult library, the collection for teens and young adults can be satisfactory. The books do have diversity. Membership comes in different forms from Young Learners, to Student membership (for those aged above 15) to general and family membership for a group of people. Library hours are from 10 am to 6 pm and members can borrow up to four books as well as DVDs and browse the internet. British Council is a classic memory to those of us who spent their weekends there, with non-stop gaming, cartoons and competition; it's sad how the kids today can't enjoy similar privileges.


For an enhanced library experience you can also try out the Archer K Blood library at the American Center of the US Embassy. Situated near the embassy in Baridhara, this library is divided into numerous sections providing all sorts of American novels, magazines and movies. They do have a kids' corner as well as shelves grouped for young adults. Internet use is of course available. The library database can easily be searched for whatever you are looking for. In case the book you are looking for isn't in their collection, the staff are ready to accept any requests for ordering.


Another classic library you can visit is of course the Central Public Library, the largest public library in Bangladesh. The library is divided into the general, children, science and reference sections. The collection is vast, consisting of thousands of both English and Bangla books, as well as books in other languages. You have plenty of space to sit down with a book and read for hours in the tranquil environment of the public library. Internet use is available for members, but for an hour per day.


Of course in some areas we have the mobile or 'bhramyoman' library, courtesy of the Bishwa Shahitya Kendra. This mini-bus full of books travels across the country lending books to members, so watch out for it!

Yet if you don't like the whole borrowing and returning process of a library for any reason, there are book stores in Dhaka which have collections worth appreciating. Nilkhet is and always has been there for the patient hunters of books. If you search the nooks and crannies you can find wonderful reads there.

If you are looking to quickly obtain whatever you need, but don't really mind walking around and browsing, New Market is awesome. It has some stores that have been around for a while such as Zeenat, which has a great collection of both classics and new books.

A revelation at the New Market is a store called 'Book Web' which can fool you for any foreign book store. It's complete with fiction, non-fiction, autobiographies, science, history, comics and the works. Another place which takes into account your requests and orders the books. (www.facebook.com/bookweb)

If you haven't tried the PBS at Shantinagar, you are missing out on the 'largest bookshop in Bangladesh' according to them. PBS is indeed a fantastic location to sit down with a book, enjoy beverages, listen to music peacefully. It is a full wi-fi zone. It also has a multilingual collection you cannot compare with most places, from Rabindranath to Markus Zusak. Every Friday morning there are treats for kids while you can also buy CDs from here. Very soon, PBS is launching 'e-boi' their own e-book reader! (www.pbschain.com ; www.facebook.com/PBSLTD)

You can also check out stores such as Gyankosh, Boi Bichitra, Words 'n' Pages and Bookworm.. There is no end to the variety of books that we can read. So stop complaining and run around town to find great books because the stores this city has to offer might just surprise you!

“January 24th

By Numaya

After you've had it, there isn't even a life without drugs…”
Written in the form of diary entries, 'Go Ask Alice', is an honest portrayal of the life of a drug addict. By an author named “Anonymous”, later revealed to be Beatrice Sparks, it claims to be the actual diary of an anonymous teenage girl whose life became centred on drugs.

“This will be a good trip. Come on, relax, enjoy it.” This is how it started. A shy, innocent girl is sucked into the heartless world of drugs because of her need to be accepted. She did not plan for this to happen; she didn't even know it was happening but the people who drugged her unknowingly began the whirlpool that would soon trap her. It was a soft drink laced with LSD that started it all.

The narrator is an unnamed 15-year old girl, with a passion for the beauty of life. However when her father switches jobs, she is forced to move to a new town where she feels like an outcast. A bit of an unsocial teenager, she finds it difficult to make friends. In summer when she returns to her hometown and reunites with her old friends she's shocked as to how much they have changed. One night, at a party with her old friends, she ingests LSD during a dangerous party game and she awakens to the exciting adventure that life seems to have become.

Within months she was hooked, trapped in a downward spiral that took her from her loving family, the luxuries of her home, to the streets of an unknown city. The story follows her as she moves from place to place, introduced to new people who dealt with drugs for a living. The boys she dated were all druggies and overtime the drugs became a way of life for her. Many a time, she frees herself from the addiction, only to be pulled back in by her demanding social life and drug-crazed group of friends. The book narrates the journey that robbed a girl of her innocence and youth

Written in 1971, this best-selling account of a teenage girl's harrowing descent into the nightmarish world of drugs has left a mark on generations of teen readers. Powerful and moving, this book showcases the allure of drugs, not just their horrible consequences. It's made more appealing because all teenagers can relate to this girl's point of view and it's through understanding her feelings that we truly realise the consequences of substance abuse. This novel verbalizes feelings that most teens experience, making it a very interesting read.

This isn't a story about the heroine overcoming one obstacle to triumph in the end. Although the book is fictional, Go Ask Alice's heroine faces real problems as she falters, regresses and constantly struggles against her problems. Clearly, the book is intense: It graphically describes the waking hell into which the main character descends her heartfelt but futile battles to return home and stay clean, her pleas to God to save her, her trust and love for her family, and her ultimate failure. The raw emotion will really punch you in the gut, and make you want to keep reading.



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