I once read an interview of an actress during the course of which she mentioned, “I’m a prolific reader’. So what do you read, queried the interviewer? “Mills and Boons”, said she. And there right then she fell from my estimation. Mills and Boons? Is that even reading?
Yeah yeah I was a judgemental idiot.
But dear friend do bear in mind that I was an impressionable teen then. Mills and Boons, to me, were no longer forbidden but definitely looked down upon. Besides, I had begun to enjoy the classics and, I’m ashamed to admit, had turned into a bit of a snob.
Even as an adult if I chance upon a person with a book while I’m travelling I try my best to check out the cover, covertly of course, and then I cannot help but think a certain way about that person.
Do you do that too? No? Think Twilight, think Fifty Shades of Grey, think Chetan Bhagat.
Yeah, it just wouldn’t be right if Mr Bhagat doesn’t come up at this point – the most widely read and even more widely trolled of Indian authors. Not many self-respecting readers are his fans and yet his books break sales records and are made into hit films.
I am pretty eclectic in my reading as long as it’s fiction. So yes, I have read him but I’m not a fan. However, I do have friends who read only Chetan Bhagat and I do not write them off, perhaps because I know them beyond Bhagat.
The point I’m making is that I know the impression of a person purely based on the book in his hand is completely unreliable. I know nothing of the person, I have no clue how he came about the book, I don’t even know whether he is liking or disliking it and yet I form an opinion.
And what if he does enjoy a book I completely abhorred? Does that necessarily make him a ‘not my kind’ of person?
Not at all. And yet I continue to judge.