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The Lalareading A Book
The Lalareading A Book
Her Campus Media
The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Ashoka chapter.

Edited by: Shriya Bhat

My name is Sayona and I am a literature student. I read my first novel in the second grade at the age of six: Enid Blyton’s The Enchanted Wood. It took me months to finish that book. I would start reading, stop somewhere in the middle and then start all over again from the beginning. Eventually, I pushed myself and finished the book just because I wanted to buy another. 

This anecdote pretty much sums up my relationship with books even today. I haven’t had the best year in terms of reading. I’ve read seven books this year, and almost all of them are rom-coms — a genre of books I usually finish within a span of three days . I have been trying to read a book (big surprise, it’s a rom-com) for the past month and a half and have barely made it halfway. This book was supposed to get me out of a slump, so that I can finish my goal of reading three books during the semester (apart from coursework readings). I have now changed my goal to finishing one book during the semester — that looks doubtful too. 

Funnily enough, I’m not only struggling to complete my reading requirements on a personal front, but also a professional front. Reading a text for class is a long and exhausting process; I start by skimming through the text. I then read it word by word, label the words I do not know, highlight certain points made with different colors based on their relevance and write down my thoughts on the text. In short, I annotate everything I read; whether it is Walter Benjamin’s essay on The Work Of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction or Ali Hazelwood’s novel The Love Hypothesis

Long story short, not only do I have difficulty reading, I cannot read for fun or pleasure anymore. I need a pencil in my hand to annotate, to write down my thoughts about a particular scene, to think out loud about the story in a larger context and question my reading of the text — what are my biases? Why does this particular scene make me uncomfortable?  Here, I have cataloged some snippets of my annotated books ranging from plays to short stories to novels, so that —if at all someone reads this article, they may consider developing this habit, or teach me how to become better and more efficient at this skill. 

Silence! The Court is in Session 

By Vijay Tendulkar

Mrs Kashikar: Why are you paying Ponkshe? Samant, give it back. What I say is, let’s call it Performance Expenses — that’ll be alright. In any case, we have to demonstrate our lawcourt to Samant because of the performance, don’t we? That settles it. Samant, [opening her purse and taking out a bank note] take this. Bring half a dozen packets of the kind everyone wants. And bring some pan, three or four. Sweet ones. 

Annotation: What are the expenses you really pay for a performance, both material and personal? In the context of this play, Miss Benare loses her privacy and is character assassinated for an improv  performance rehearsal. However, that is still a performance even if it is witnessed by five people. Can we complicate the idea of performance — performance of ‘respectability’, performance of love (hinting to Mrs Kashikar’s earlier dialogue about how couples engaging in PDA seems performative, and an attempt to hide something’ and performance of morality. 

It Sounded Better In My Head 

By Nina Kenwood 

I was paranoid about leaving a trace of evidence. The pimples on my shoulders would sometimes burst and leave stains on my top. I was messy, leaking, uncontained. 

Annotation: Literal and metaphorical representation of one’s character, beautiful line. 

How often, exactly, do they talk about me when I’m not there? I hate the thought that they might, but I also hate the thought that they might not. I would like to be one of their top three conversation topics, but only if they are spending a significant amount of time reflecting on my sparkling personality.

Annotation: Natalie’s inherently funny. Her comments on the situation and her internal thoughts make me crack up. Hits the nail on the head with her thoughts, so incredibly honest and relatable. Can this internal monologue be represented in a film in any other way, apart from a voice over? Not including the thoughts in her head would be a shame; they are hilarious and really make you connect with the character. 

I know why Zach is saying no — he thinks his brother and especially his brother’s friends are not good people, and that I will be in way over my head at their party. Both of which are probably true.

Annotation: Meaning – in a difficult situation. Would have been better if there was another metaphor or it was simply mentioned that ‘it would have been a difficult situation’. The first time I read it, I thought it meant Natalie would be overthinking everything. Also, it doesn’t make sense grammatically despite being right and is not very convenient to read. 

iLove Story

By Muniza Tariq

From the book: Love in the Time of WhatsApp and Other Stories 

There was something about her. 

She was stupid but confident. 

She was plastic but pretty. 

She was dumb yet wise. 

She knew the right buttons to press. 

Annotation: Absolutely hate this description. Firstly, dichotomies and binaries are a terrible way to describe a character, and in this case, reinforce the stereotype of ‘beauty with brains’ which is not a compliment, and problematic at its core. This supposed character description of Sheeba seems like a caricature of a  South Delhi girl. The only thing we knew about Sheeba before this character description was that she lives in South Delhi, and we know nothing more about her after this description . On another note, the name Sheeba does not suit the character. It is not a name commonly given to the millennial generation. 

Sayona is a second year student at Ashoka University, majoring in English and Media studies. An ardent believer in the concept of afternoon naps and to-do lists; she is your go to person for clothes, food and advice.