An environmentalist’s guide to books

Nov 2, 2015- Kumar Paudel has been in the environment and biodiversity conservation sector for more than half a decade. Kumar oversees the strategy, research and operations at the Greenhood Nepal, where he holds the position of founder president. Besides that, he frequently writes on issues of environmental conservation. Paudel talked to the Post about his love for books and reading habits. Excerpts:

What are you presently reading? What is it about?

Currently, I am reading Natural Coincidence: The Trip from Kalamazoo, by Bil Gilbert. It is a collection of essays on nature. The book is filled with affection, sophistication, and down-home common sense in an engagingly understated style.

How did you first come to love books?

I grew up in the hills of Sindhupalchok district. It was tough to even find our text books there, but fortunately for me, I had a sister who read a lot. She was doing her Bachelors, and there would be plenty of books on Nepali literature to read.

What was the last book you read and how did you like it?

I went through The Deal Maker by Rakesh Wadhwa for the second time this Dashain. I quite liked this book; it presents the idea of free market and liberal economy in a very simple language, and the writer has many interesting details to offer.

Who are your favourite writers, and why?
I especially like reading the works of Paulo Coelho. The Alchemist is my all-time favourite. The subjects of his novels and the unforgettable characters in them never fail to impress me. I quite like the emotional ride that reading Paulo Coelho makes for. Another writer I admire is Robin Sharma. Some time ago, I read The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, which I found quite inspiring. I am also a big fan of Nepali writer Kumar Nagarkoti.

What is your favourite genre and why?

Although I enjoy reading novels by writers such as Coelho, I think I am more into non-fiction. Mostly I read journals, case studies and essayson issues of environmental conservation. I also follow articles written on subjects like economy, history and philosophy.

How do you select books to read?

Mostly, I select books to read based on the reviews. I follow friends’ recommendations as well.

What is good writing for you? What would you say makes a good writer?

Good writing is simple and concise. Upon finishing a good piece of writing, the reader should be able to feel the change the writing has wrought to their mind. I think that’s one prime feature of good writing.

How have books affected your life?

I think the books I have read have shaped my thinking and my overall being. I cannot imagine a world without books.
What’s your take on e-books?

 I prefer a physical bookas comparedto an e-book. But sometimes, I read e-books as well. One cannot deny the inroad e-books have carved in the world of literature.

Which book do you think is a must-read, and why?

The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo is one book which I think all literary enthusiasts should read once. It is the book that made me realise my dreams and aspirations.

Are you working on a book right now?

If so please tell us what it is about. Yes, I have been working on a book for a year. It is about a story on scapegoats in the chain of illegal wildlife trade. I hope to complete it bythe end of 2016.

This interview was published in The Kathmandu Post on 02-11-2015

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