I once read an interview of an actress during the course of which she mentioned,
‘I’m a prolific reader’.
This was about a decade ago when there weren’t too many reading actresses and I was impressed, rightaway.
‘So what do you read?’ continued 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 stupidly judgemental.
But, dear friend, do bear in mind that I was fresh out of my teens when the likes of Ayn Rand had begun to cast their spell on me. I was also beginning to enjoy the classics. Mills and Boons, to me, were no longer forbidden but definitely looked down upon. I’m ashamed to admit, I had turned into a bit of a snob.
I like to think I’ve become more accepting of reading choices, however, 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 outgrew him at some point and stopped at the last few books. 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.