‘Reading widens your horizon and makes you more empathetic’Rachana Thapa, a hospitality educator and an entrepreneur, speaks about her relationship with books and how reading has shaped her as a person.
As a girl, Rachana Thapa, who is now the director of Silver Mountain School of Hotel Management, was an introvert and didn’t have many friends. It didn’t help that her elder brother, her only sibling, was away at boarding school most of the year. So as a young girl, Thapa spent most of her time in the school library, getting lost in the world of books. She takes great pride in the fact that her two daughters have inherited her love for reading.
In this interview with the Post, Thapa shares what reading means to her, how reading has helped her in her professional life and shaped her as a person, and her favourite books.
Did you grow up in an environment that encouraged reading?
I grew up surrounded by books. Though my parents were not avid readers, they always brought home books from their travels. The school library was my favourite place to be, and I would get mesmerised reading classics and books by P G Wodehouse.
What was the first book you read that left a lasting impression on you?
It has to be Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’. I was quite young when I read the book. The book was quite ahead of time and rebellious for my young mind. Perhaps a lot of its plot was lost in translation, but reading the book did make me realise the pros and cons of having a strong sense of pride and self-righteousness. It left a lasting impression on me.
How do you think your reading habit has shaped you as a person?
Reading not only takes you to places you may never visit but also widens your horizon and makes you more empathetic and inclusive. I enjoy reading a wide range of genres, which has helped me better understand the ever-evolving world and taught me the importance of looking at things from other people’s points of view. Reading has also helped me realise my privilege and use it more productively for my personal growth and my surroundings’ growth. Since I mainly work with youth, reading has helped ensure their holistic development.
How do you choose your books?
Bookstores are my favourite places to be. When it comes to choosing what I read, I rely a lot on reviews and recommendations. Of late, I have become drawn to books by authors from the Indian subcontinent. I find their works easier to relate with. They speak my language, and I find comfort in the worlds they write about. I’m not a big fan of self-help books, though.
As someone from the hospitality industry, how do you think reading has helped you in what you do?
Reading has equipped me with the tools I need to deal with young minds and helped me guide and ready them for the challenging world. Books on travel, food, culture, and society have helped me to introduce new concepts and ideas in learning. What I read has also helped me introduce new things at school. In this global village, books are a beautiful window.
You seem to read a lot of Nepali books as well. Which one is your current favourite?
Reading Nepali books has helped me expand my vocabulary and better understand and know my people and their psyche. I recently read Basanta Basnet’s ‘Mahabhara’. The book vividly describes its characters and places that it immersed me in its world. Apart from ‘Mahabhara’, I also enjoyed reading Nayan Raj Pandey’s ‘Yaar’ and Ramesh Sayan’s ‘Chuteka Anuhar’.
Three books that you can never tire of recommending and why?
It’ll be so unfair to the other books that I love if I mention just three. But here are four favourite books that I love gifting:
‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’ by Yuval Noah Harari
‘Caste: The Origins of our Discontents’ by Isabel Wilkerson
‘Timmur’ by Prashanta Khanal
‘After Kurukshetra’ by Mahasweta Devi