The other day, a PR acquaintance visited me at work. A person who is always a pleasure to meet, I had to ask why she came after months.
“I didn’t have any books to share with you.”
“Oh! Tell me which one you’ve got.”
The book was lying face down on the table. She didn’t hand it to me, so I picked it up. It had such a cheesy romantic title. My expression immediately changed.
“I know it’s not your kind of book, but give it a shot.”
I quickly flipped through the book, but all I could read were phrases on steamy, cheesy heterosexual scenes.
“The author was a journalist with a national daily. She’s a woman of substance.”
“Then why do women of substance come up with such books?”
She didn’t reply, but it got me thinking.
I have nothing against women (or anyone) writing amorous stories filled with thrilling encounters, and yet I was quick to judge the book, and it’s author. I may not be the intended target audience, but then again, I sometimes wish more quality reading material is published at the same time. I am not a published author, so you may think I have no say. But as a reader, this is definitely not what I think I would like to read.
My very good friend, M, who (unlike me) is quite well acquainted with contemporary Indian authors, believes me to extremely mean and yes, judgemental.
I spent most of my late teens silently judging those who read Mills & Boons. Till date, I’ve only read two, and to be honest, it was quite a bore. Sidney Sheldon also has been quite a disappointment for me. The story lines and sexual scenarios were interesting, but post my third book, I started to find a basic template being followed. Needless to add, I haven’t picked up another SS again.
As my reading experiences have developed, they’ve transformed too and I’ve figured how each genre has its own levels of book titles.
It was two years ago when a colleague and friend had asked me to review the debut book of his friend’s, since he knew I was quite a bookworm. What I wasn’t prepared for was the extremely dense narrative that flew into various angles and parallel universes at its own whim. I know surreal storylines are not a thing of the past, but one does understand when it sounds ‘forced’ and more like a gimmick to attach itself to one particular genre. I whined right through the book. I hated having to read it, and yet, I knew I wouldn’t be at rest if I had abandoned the endeavour. Sometimes, I hate that about myself.
You know the phrase – I think, therefore I am, and I believe that we all turn out to be what we consume. Our brains, our minds, our subconscious gets guided by the matter that flows into it. And it is going to take a colossal effort on my part to train my mind to be the best it can be. Even the mind needs to be disciplined from time to time. This is exactly why I decided to focus on some quality reading for this year’s reading challenge, instead of blindly trying to aim at some obscure number. I completed 40 books last year, going well past the intended 30, and I’m proud of myself. I had forgotten the art and love for reading some two years ago due to personal issues, and I’m very happy it’s back on track.
Balance is key. Read a few titles from different genres. Many don’t realise just how reading varied books can help expand our minds, push our horizons and stretch our possibilities. It would definitely get boring reading paperback after paperback by the same author and clearly seeing through the approach after the possible fourth or fifth book. But of course, this is just my suggestion. It’s a free country. At least we think it is.
In the meantime, I’ll try to not hold personal reading choices against someone, and soon enough, I’m definitely going to try and read at least one book by a bestselling contemporary author.