Monday Musings 275: Of books and the Characters!
As I see it, there are only two kinds of problems around reading – one is around whether we like reading or not in the first place; and those who are able to overcome this problem are faced with another herculean one – what to read? There are yet others who remain untouched and unfazed with these two pseudo existential questions – they are clearly the happier lot.
There are all kinds of readers. Let me share a few types that I have bumped into.
1 1. The Imposter: they always carry a book and that is the only thing one can be sure of; that they are carrying a book. Usually the book that they will carry will also be the one which has featured in page3’s recently so that also serves the very purpose of carrying the book. Reading, for this lot is more a status symbol, an act of wannabe intellectual – the same reason why they would not wear just a suit but only an Armani or carry not just a bag but only a Louis Vitton! When you meet them they would play with the book in front of you so that you make it a conversation starter after which they will pontificate on the ‘Half Girlfriend’ (written by you know who!!), which according to them is a great book by a great writer, as if they are outlining the later Pulitzer winner. PS – take your revenge, just ignore the book and refuse to have a conversation around it. It will frustrate them to no end.
2 2. The worm: Irrespective of the title they are reading, which might range from ‘The tapeworms in your bowels’ to the ‘Climate change in Mars’ – they are immersed in it as if they are praying. The book is either close to their faces, in which case they want you to see the book and not their faces or they might be hunched on it, in which case they are the most likely candidates for cervical spondilysis – either ways they clearly are in meditative stupor. The book is larger than their persona. They are also saying the following – ‘Don’t even try to begin a conversation’ and ‘buzz off’. Chances are they have relationship issues with human beings – but that can be highly controversial, isn’t it?
3 3. The flirt: The name says it all. They flirt with books but as is the wont of all flirts, they suffer from commitment phobias. No book can hold their attention for more than a few pages. All books, according to them, have a problem. Some are too boring, some too long, some have font problems, some have weight problems, and for some that it has no pictures (I love the last one!!).
4 4. The Show off: The show off actually reads the book, less to immerse and enjoy but to let you know that he has actually read the book. All conversation will be veered towards that book irrespective of the moment or the occasion. You will have to politely tolerate the absolute irrelevance of book to the mood. The revenge with the show off is to talk about an even more irrelevant book that you had read 10 years back!
5 5. The Rebel: The rebel cannot understand how a normal human being can spend so many precious hours of human life so frustratingly tied up with something as inanimate and boring such as a book. The rebel believes that all the books that were supposed to be read have already been read from the KG to the 10th – everything else is an imperialist hegemony that must be rebelled against. The rebel believes real education happens on the streets and not on the couch. As one writer friend of mine says ‘I don’t read books because they interfere with my imagination’. I have not asked him so far whether his books will interfere in the imagination of others – remember he is a friend after all.
6 6. The Occasional: The occasional reads roughly one book a year and for precisely the same reason why the diehard non vegetarians keeps the navratra fast. Some call it penance; I call it a licence to go non veg for yet another year.
PS: Some people are genuinely connoisseurs of books – in the truest sense of the word. They are few and far in between. But there is no story in that.