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In times when scientists should also be recognized as leaders, dr. Vita Godec, Chief Operating Officer of Lenis farmacevtika, spoke with dr. Krištof Kranjc from the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology who is a big fan of travelogues and a passionate book collector.

Krištof, what does reading mean to you?

On one hand it’s just a way to spend my free time. After all, with nothing to read I’d be bored, but having something to read makes the chance of boredom much less likely. On the other hand reading just teaches me so much, even though I realize that I forget a lot. It’s happened that I’ve gotten to the end of the book just to find (my) checkmark [ed. he puts a checkmark at the end of every book that he’s finished]. I generally don’t read fiction or literature, and off the clock there isn’t much chemistry or other scientific reading within my area of expertise. I love reading travelogues – even for places I’ve never been to and probably never will. Right now, for instance, I’m reading Popotnik po Rožu [ed. a travelogue through Austrian Rosental]. I’m also reading books that have piled up at our house (we have some 2,000 novels in the attic that my grandfather collected. Both of my parents are collectors, more of historical books and contemporary fiction. I’d guess we have about 10,000 books at home, of which 2,000 are mine – I mostly get books on vacation – these are travel memoirs, or books about local art and architecture. Books with no pictures or illustrations don’t easily hold my attention, as I consider books a means of travelling virtually. Those books that I have at home, I have a relationship and emotional attachment to them; I like each and every one of them.

Do you take notes about what you’ve read and if so how?

No, I remember the things that interest me, at least for as long as I need such information. I don’t like underlining or scribbling in books; the most I do is use a regular slip of paper to mark where I left off. For the past 10 years I’ve had the habit of writing with a regular pencil when, where, and for how much I bought the book, and at the end I leave a checkmark when I’ve read it. During the first lockdown last year in March, I even made an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of the number of pages, author, publisher, language, and date of publication, along with geographic origin if it is a travelogue.


I see you keep a list of books that you’ve read. Do you also keep a list of those you’d still like to read? And if so, which is the next on the list?

No, no, I have books at home that I know I haven’t read, but would like to. It’s hard to imagine a book that I want existing without me already having it. I like buying books just so I can see them.

How important is a good cover?

A book’s cover gets my attention, but the content is still important, so I always makes sure to leaf through a book before buying it. It’s already happened to me that I bought a book that had a beautiful picture and an English title, while inside were just Chinese characters, with no diagrams or illustrations. That’s why I don’t like buying books online or buying shrink-wrapped or otherwise packaged books.

From what I’ve heard so far, I’d guess you prefer hard copies to e-books, why?

That’s not even a question. You have to smell a book, its ink and binding glue. Every book has a different smell and a different type of paper that you feel under your fingertips. Even if you print out everything and bind it yourself (e.g. college course books), it just isn’t the same. I do have an e-reader, which I only used once on a long trip through Australia – and even then mostly for maps and plans. For work I read everything on my computer, where I correct students’ undergrad, master’s, and doctoral theses, because I can make comments and corrections faster than with paper. But that’s reading for work, while reading at home is for pleasure.

How has the pandemic affected your relationship with books?

I’ve definitely read more, because if nothing else I’ve saved time on commuting, and we took fewer trips this year. I do most of my reading at home. On a good day, I’ll spend 5 to 6 hours reading, but on a normal day it’s somewhere around 3. There are also of course subnormal days, when I don’t read anything at all.

What do you say to people who tell you they have no time to read?

People are different. If you have enough work, excitement, and enjoyment with other activities, then no problem. Personally I don’t want even a little bit to play some team sport or watch football, because it just doesn’t interest me. Those who don’t enjoy reading probably associate it with reading lists and tasks from school, where they picked up some resistance. To those who would like to read more but don’t know how, I suggest reading about whatever interests them. To keep the analogy going, if that’s football, then they should start with football. Or with magazines, like National Geographic or Gea. Books are also great tools for keeping up with your foreign languages, which is why I have subscriptions to Germanophone journals.

Who is the next bookworm you recommend for the next interview?

I recommend Matej Golob from AmCham’s CorpoHub, and he should receive the book The Secret Life of Fish: The Astonishing Truth about our Aquatic Cousins.