February 2, 2024
KATHMANDU – Santoshi Shrestha sees an obvious connection between her passion for running and reading in her life. Known for her achievements as a long-distance runner, Shrestha made headlines by clinching the gold medal in middle distance at the 2019 South Asian Games. Her knack for setting national records continued in 2023, as she secured another milestone in the 10,000m category in Germany.While Shrestha is a familiar face in the athletic world, her academic pursuits are equally noteworthy. Holding an MA in Public Administration, she plans to study sports medicine next. Beyond the track and academic achievements, Shrestha reveals that she is an avid reader.
I started my reading journey with children’s magazines. Nowadays, there’s a plethora of literature for people to explore, but that wasn’t the case back then. My early reading days were shaped by Bal Koseli and Kopeli. I also liked staying informed by reading newspapers. I remember wanting to read everything I could get my hands on. I liked gwarmari, and since it was usually sold wrapped in paper, I’d read those papers every time I bought them. My brother, also an avid reader himself, had a significant influence on my reading journey. That’s how it all began.
What kinds of books do you enjoy now?
I don’t have a specific genre I like reading more than others, but I’ve noticed that I’m drawn to motivational, biographical and inspirational stories—they touch my soul. Occasionally, I delve into books on health, medicine and spirituality. I also enjoy reading newspaper articles and journals.
Has your taste in reading changed over the years?
When I was in school, Nepal had a civil war going on, and my book choices were influenced by the ongoing societal and political issues. I read books that helped me grasp the ongoing circumstances. These days, my reading is more aligned with my personal experiences, reflecting my journey in sports and life in general. I find solace in real-life stories that uplift my spirits.
Is your career as a runner linked to your reading habits, or are they separate aspects of your life?
They are very much intertwined. Reading is a key tool for me to explore ways to enhance my running. I regularly delve into sports and running-focused research to refine my practice. The scientific insights gained from reading contribute to sharpening my sportsmanship. Runners require motivation, and reading provides that. It’s a two-way street; just as reading influences my running, the physical exertion of running refreshes my mind for continued reading. It’s not just a connection; I believe running and reading are truly interlocked.
Do people often make assumptions about your reading habits as an athlete?
Certainly. It surprises people to discover that someone involved in sports also enjoys reading. Even within reading circles, there’s a misconception that an athlete can’t be an avid reader and learner. Growing up, the prevailing belief was that students excelling in sports were lacking in academics, and those succeeding in academics couldn’t possibly be into sports. My motivation to become a runner stemmed from challenging this unfair stereotype. I wanted to break the mould and set an example, showing that such assumptions are far from the truth. Breaking this stereotype became my driving force.
How do you feel about the limited sports literature available in Nepal?
I wish there were more stories about Nepali experiences in sports, featuring our players. We need more documentation of Nepali sportsmanship, akin to what exists globally. This scarcity may be linked to the developmental stage of sports in Nepal. There’s immense potential for achievements, despite the challenges players face. Over time, I hope literature will capture the journey and evolution of Nepali players on the global stage.
At the beginning of our conversation, we touched on your enjoyment of journaling and documenting your experiences. Do you aspire to write a book one day?
Absolutely, I have a strong desire to write a book, and I believe with enough time and motivation, I can achieve it. If I were to pen a book, it would focus on my own experiences and challenges as a runner. Reading has played a crucial role in broadening my imagination and honing my writing skills, particularly in my journaling practices.
Santoshi Shrestha’s book recommendations
Author: Maxim Gorky
Year: 2018 (translation)
Publisher: Panch Pokhari Prakashan
I really admire the character ‘Pavel’ in this story. The bond he has with his mother as well as the importance of mothers in the broader society, is a key theme that touched me deeply.
Author: Jostein Gaarder
This book teaches valuable lessons through its simple language and prose. Sophie’s teenage journey, interwoven with philosophical insights, makes it an essential read for personal development.
Author: Amar Neupane
The first time I read ‘Seto Dharti’, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the author’s voice and my own thoughts. The depiction of women’s struggles in this book is both touching and inspiring.
Author: Nawaraj KC
‘Shunyako Mulya’ is a book that made me see how people endure challenging situations in life. Despite the odds againts them, they overcame a lot and so can we.
Author: Nayan Raj Pandey
I’ve enjoyed all of Nayan Raj Pandey’s novels, and ‘Loo’ is no different. This book opened me to the experiences and struggles of people living in Tarai, which I wasn’t privy to before.