The development of reading culture among the current crop of young readership is a crucial aspect of promoting the country’s education and intellectual growth. Encouraging young people to read not only expands their knowledge domain and understanding of the world around them, but also provides them with the skills necessary for lifelong development. Hence, it is relevant to explore the role that new writers are playing in developing a book-reading culture among the youths in Bangladesh and how their efforts are helping to create a generation of avid readers, writes SM TANJIL UL HAQUE
As we know, Bangladesh has a rich literary heritage, with a long tradition of storytelling and poetry dating back centuries. However, the culture of reading has been declining over the years, especially among the youth. The Covid pandemic can be considered most responsible for that. But the matter of hope is that Bangladesh has seen a growing trend of book reading among young people in recent years, and new writers are playing a big role in this development. According to a recent survey, the number of young adults who read books has increased by 20 percent in the past five years. This is largely due to the efforts of new writers who are creating relatable, relevant and attractive content that appeals to young people. A new wave of young writers has emerged in the country who are not only reviving the book-reading culture, but also contributing to the literary landscape of the country in a unique and meaningful way.
How have young writers mesmerised young readers?
The literary world is constantly evolving, and the emergence of young writers has brought a breath of fresh air to the scene with their unique perspectives and innovative ideas. These young authors are captivating the attention of youth with their mesmerising tales and stories that explore a wide range of topics. By incorporating new and engaging storytelling techniques, they are delivering works that are both thought-provoking and entertaining. These young writers are not only making books more accessible to youth but also resonating with their experiences and concerns. With their fresh and imaginative writing styles, they are quickly gaining popularity and making a name for themselves in the literary world.
- Taking advantage of modern technology: The rise of technology and the internet has resulted in a decline in the number of people reading books. Technologies like television, radio, mobile phones, and computers, after getting connected with the internet, have become the tool that consumes a large slice of time from people’s daily lives and decreases the time that people were used to spending reading books. According to a researcher, “As the extent of reading books is declining gradually, the reading skills are also in a decreasing position in a significant manner.”
Thousands of years ago, reading and accessing books, printing presses, and other written sources from which people could have gained knowledge and enriched themselves were only the subject matter of the elite class of society, as it was thought to be a luxury to read books and spend time gaining knowledge. But it was the Gutenberg Printing Press that opened access for mass people to go through books to explore the ocean of knowledge and enrich themselves as well as world culture in the 15th century. But now, it’s the 21st century, when people are experiencing another revolution thanks to the gradual evolution of technologies. Today, technology continues to shape the way we consume information, allowing access to millions of books and research papers through online libraries such as Z Library, Jstor, and Project Gutenberg, as well as websites like ResearchGate and Academia. Compared to the limited resources of physical libraries or archives, an online library can offer people unlimited resources with millions of books, journals, scrolls, and research papers. Despite the decline in the number of people reading books due to the rise of technology and the internet, there is evidence to suggest that people are reading more than ever before. While traditional book sales have decreased, e-book sales have increased, and the number of people using online libraries and digital archives to access books and other written materials has also grown significantly. This suggests that while technology has changed the way we consume and access information, it has not necessarily led to a decline in the number of people reading. In fact, it could be argued that technology has made reading more accessible than ever before. In this case, the young writers of the countryhave embraced technology and used it to their advantage to promote reading. Many of these writers have an active presence on social media, where they share their works and engage with their audience. They also organise online book clubs, shops, webinars, and events to encourage reading among the youth. Many of these writers are reaping the benefits of new technologies such as e-books and social media to reach a wider audience. This has allowed them to bypass traditional publishing channels and reach readers directly.
- Producing smart tales: These new writers are using innovative storytelling techniques and incorporating elements of popular culture to make their books more engaging for young people. Young writers are helping to revitalise the book-reading culture by writing about issues that are appealing to the readers. Young writers are making a splash in the literary world, captivating young audiences with their thrilling, mysterious, and horror tales. The youth of today seem to have a particular affinity for these genres, and the young authors are delivering works that are sure to keep readers on the edge of their seats. From the intense plot twists of a mystery novel to the spine-tingling chills of a horror story, these writers are creating books that are appealing to the tastes and interests of the younger generation. They are also addressing topics such as mental health, relationships, and identity, which are relevant to young people today. This approach has not only made books more accessible but has also made them more appealing to a younger audience.
- Promoting local and international literature: New writers in Bangladesh are also helping to increase the visibility of local literature. They are publishing their works both online and in print, making it easier for readers to access them. They are also collaborating with international writers and translating internationally acclaimed books, which has increased the global recognition of Bangladeshi literature.
Why is growing a book-reading culture among youth important?
There is a famous quote given by George Martin, in which he said, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies; the man who never reads only one.” If one talks about the source of knowledge, then the first name that will come to mind is “book,” as books are the only materials in the world, either in printed form or in an online version, that offer people the opportunity to swim in an ocean of knowledge. Reading books not only broadens readers’ knowledge of specific topics, but it also allows them to expand their vocabularies, improve their concentration and focusing abilities, increase their mental stimulation, and practise developing their own point of view and expressing it through writing. For which, someone correctly stated, “Books are people’s best friends.” That’s why, thinking of all these points, growing a book reading culture among youths is important for several reasons. Firstly, reading helps young people expand their knowledge and understanding of the world around them. By reading books, they are exposed to different ideas and perspectives, which help them develop critical thinking skills and a greater appreciation for diversity.
“Books are people’s best friends.” So, if there’s anyone who asks, what should he read, then the obvious answer should be “anything in front of you that you like to explore with.”
Secondly, reading is essential for reading books is a crucial activity that contributes significantly to the development of language and communication skills. These skills are considered essential for success in both education and the workplace as they allow individuals to effectively communicate their thoughts, ideas, and opinions and also enhance their ability to understand and comprehend information. Research has shown that reading books regularly helps in building vocabulary, improving writing skills, and strengthening the ability to analyse and interpret information, all of which are valuable assets in the academic and professional spheres.
In addition, reading provides young people with the tools they need to succeed in a rapidly changing world. It helps them develop problem solving skills, creativity, and emotional intelligence, all of which are important for navigating complex social and economic challenges. Furthermore, reading is a powerful tool for personal growth and self-discovery. By reading books, young people can gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their place in the world, which can help them build a more fulfilling and meaningful life. Finally, a strong book-reading culture among youth in Bangladesh can have a positive impact on the country as a whole. By encouraging young people to read, Bangladesh can create a more educated and informed citizenry, which is essential for the country’s future growth and development. In short, promoting a book-reading culture among youth in Bangladesh is an investment in the future of the country and its people. Bangladesh is a country with a rich history and a growing economy, and its young population holds the key to its future development.
However, for the country to reach its full potential, it is crucial that its youth are equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in a rapidly changing world. One way to achieve this is by promoting a book-reading culture among the youth. Reading books can help improve literacy skills, encourage creativity, foster critical thinking, promote empathy, and increase knowledge. By prioritising the promotion of a book-reading culture among its youth, the country can invest in the future success of its people and the development of the country as a whole.
Young writers dominate Amar Ekushey Book Fair 2023
The Amar Ekushey Book Fair 2023 has witnessed a remarkable rise of young writers in the literary scene. The fair saw a significant number of debutant authors, who have taken the literary world by storm with their innovative writing styles and captivating stories. According to the official statistics, more than 25 percent of the total participants in the book fair were young writers under the age of 30. This shows a clear trend towards the emergence of a new generation of talented writers who are making their mark in the literary world.
Furthermore, the sales figures of books authored by young writers were equally impressive. It is estimated that the books written by these young authors accounted for approximately 40 percent of the total sales revenue generated at the fair up until now. This highlights the immense popularity and acceptance of the works produced by these young writers among the readers. The success of young writers at the fair serves as a testament to the growing interest in literature among youth and the importance of providing a platform for their voices to be heard. This bodes well for the future of literature in the country as the new generation of writers’ promises to bring in new perspectives, fresh ideas, and an unbridled passion for writing.
Moreover, the growth in book reading has also been fuelled by government initiatives to promote reading. For example, the government has set up mobile libraries in rural areas to make books more accessible to young people who may not have access to traditional libraries. In addition, many schools have started to include book clubs as a regular part of their curriculum, encouraging students to read and discuss books. The impact of these efforts can be seen in the rising number of young people participating in book clubs and literary events. The number of youths attending book festivals, for example, has increased by 30 percent in the past three years. This is a positive sign that the book-reading culture among youth in Bangladesh is thriving.
As for concluding note, it can be said that the contribution of young writers in the country towards reviving the book-reading culture is invaluable. By embracing technology, writing about trendy and thought-provoking topics, increasing visibility of local literature, and collaborating with international writers, they are helping to bring reading back to the forefront of the cultural landscape. Additionally, with innovative storytelling techniques and government’s patronage, these writers are reaching a wider audience and encouraging more youths to pick up a book. This is a positive trend that will have a lasting impact on the future of reading in the country. The future of book-reading culture in Bangladesh, thus, looks bright with the continued efforts of these young pool of talented writers.
In a PRESS XPRESS exclusive interview with SM Tanjil Ul Haque, three young writers share their views on the current state and future of the writing industry.
- In your opinion, what is the current state of the book reading culture in Bangladesh?
Book reading culture in Bangladesh is growing, especially with the increasing popularity of online platforms like Boitoi and Boighor. People can read books now while waiting in the traffic. The overall appeal of paper-bound books still exist though.
- How do you think young writers can contribute to the development of the book reading culture in Bangladesh?
I think young writers have showcased innovative ideas every year. From the auction of books to having corporate bodies sponsor the books of upcoming writers seem promising. Moreover,they are showcasing themselves on online platforms and overall the interaction with readers is convenient due to social media.
- Are there enough opportunities for young writers to showcase their innovative ideas in Bangladesh?
The rise of social media use has led to a decline in the book reading population. To counteract this trend, young writers should use social media platforms and in-person events to engage and influence readers. Publishers should also support young and upcoming writers by holding contests for manuscript submissions and providing overall PR related support for book launches.
- In your experience, what are some of the challenges that young writers face in Bangladesh?
New writers often struggle with finding their unique writing style and may not have access to editors who can help. It’s very important to develop own style to create originality, rather than imitating famous authors. Without this, their work may not be well-received by publishers or readers.
- What kind of support do you think is needed for young writers to grow and succeed in their careers?
New writers need guidance. Unfortunately, in our country, there are no formal institutions to provide direction for the starters. Therefore, one has to bear the brunt of the initial struggle alone. Despite this, they should persevere with patience and determination to achieve success.
- How do you think technology has impacted the writing industry in Bangladesh?
Technology has made manuscript creation easier for young writers compared to the old days when they had to handwrite their manuscripts. With modern technology, the composition process is quicker and easier. Additionally, advancements in printing technology have improved the overall printing process.
- Are there enough outlets for young writers to publish their works and reach a wider audience?
New publication houses are more interested in young writers, particularly those who write thrillers or horror. This presents more opportunities for new authors in these genres to get their work published. However, mainstream “big” publication houses are less interested in new bloods, and are not as active online or in building relationships with online bookshops. As a result, I think new publication houses are the future of the industry.
- How do you see the future of writing in Bangladesh, and what role do you think young writers will play in shaping it?
Well, the number of writers and translators is increasing, particularly in the genres of horror and thriller, which are more popular among the young writers. However, these genres are not well-received by the mainstream readers. As for the future, it’s difficult to predict what will happen. Let’s see what happens.