A novel alternative

Sprightly Paperight intern Ra’essa Pather takes us through her lifelong journey with books, arguing along the way that, even though Paperight works best for people in need of educational and academic texts, it offers a lot to recreational readers, too.

Paperight may be relatively new to the publishing world, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in content. A lot of focus has been placed on the academic material Paperight provides, and with good reason too: cheaper textbooks, anyone? Reading for educational purposes is undoubtedly essential, but if you’re looking for an affordable way to read for pleasure, we can help you there too.

Everyone has their own little list of books they keep close. A couple of titles may be embarrassing, and some may be noted for their chime of intelligence. As an English major, my list has evolved as every semester has passed. My introduction to literature began with the great Roald Dahl. Fantastic Mr. Fox was my favourite story and, though I haven’t read the book in many years, I still remember Mr. Fox as one of the wittiest, craftiest characters of my childhood. My next great obsession was Harry Potter. I read and re-read each book until the next – hopefully even larger – novel in the series was released. High school brought about a confusing mix of novels, many of which I don’t remember. Some are still carefully etched into my list today, however: The Beach (the novel written by Alex Garland thrives above the movie it inspired), The Kite Runner, Spud and Memoirs of a Geisha. University has brought a greater appreciation for texts that lie inside and outside the canon of English literature. In high school I was disgruntled by Pride and Prejudice and The Great Gatsby, whereas now I find the story of Nick Carraway, Jay Gatsby, and Daisy to be tragically sublime.

Had it not been for my studies, I probably would never have read many of the novels I’ve read in recent years. One of which is Frankenstein.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is wonderful because rather than being a narrative of monstrosity, it is a story of humanity. Since it’s first publication in 1818 the novel has been distorted and transformed in innumerable ways. Today, many don’t know the true story of Frankenstein, and it’s a shame because the themes of the novel are still exceptionally relevant in our current climate. The story of Frankenstein has been so inverted that many believe that Frankenstein was a violent, inhumane monster. Of course, the truth is that it was the scientist who was Frankenstein, and the monster he electrified into being was at times the most humane character Shelley ever constructed. The book is thought-provoking and inspiring in its approach to education and the development of the mind, as well as the questions of the conflict between science and nature – should a human be able to create another living being? One of the bases of classic literature is its ability to remain timeless, too. Frankenstein is timeless in that this very theme could be applied to 21st Century debates surrounding cloning or in vitro fertilisation, and so on.

But you may wonder what any of this has to do with Paperight. Over the years, book prices have sky-rocketed and book lovers have felt the strain. Less people are reading as novels have become an extension of a bill – you may feel like you need it, but how much will it cost you? It’s valuable to consider if newer generations will recognise the name Frankenstein in 40 years time when many reading populations feel the burden of price is too heavy, and therefore novels are no longer worth it. Almost every time I enter a bookstore I find I leave empty-handed. The only reason I ever purchase a novel is for my studies, and even then I regret the money I have spent.

I bought Frankenstein last year for R109.95. But a Paperight edition can cost as little as R50.

Paperight aims to start and keep people reading, and have found the perfect platform to do so. The digitalisation of books has had a heavy impact on the print industry overseas, as it has become the easiest and most accessible route to the books people want. In South Africa, where digital isn’t quite king yet, we also have an easy, accessible route – Paperight.

If the bookshop’s too pricey, visit Paperight.com or Paperight outlets to search what you’re looking for. Books may be too expensive in the shops, but it doesn’t mean you have to stop reading and uncovering those gems.

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