I am sure that many of us, readers and critics, book reviewers included, become judgemental when it comes to offering an opinion on someone else’s reading list. Ah, so you read that b-grade novelist? Oh my god! You read Bhagat? Hey, that’s what matters boy! I liked that you read Amitav Ghosh! Oh, come on! Really? You telling me that you read Raja Rao? Even today? That old-age trad who is no more? Come on man!
Where have you been? On this side of the line or that side? I bet you should have been somewhere. Well, it’s a truth that we are judgemental about the things we love dearly. I also pass such comments and, being honest, frequently. However, truly being objective means accepting your follies and ridiculing the same in the open. I will be doing the same here – you cannot judge someone’s character by reading their reading lists unless things go beyond… you should get my point.
Does it really matter? Does it matter at all? Both these questions are on the extreme axis of the same line and we should search for balance, somewhere, in between. It does matter what someone reads. It doesn’t matter too much what someone reads. One’s reading habit can lead us to assume many things about his or her lifestyle, ideology, thoughts, affiliations and more. However, to be there, one has to read a lot. By looking at someone’s reading list full of novels, you can only get an idea of someone’s taste in literature. And this will be too naive if the person in question doesn’t read too much.
And then, a question arises – do we all know how to study a novel? This is important because those who have a sense of literature and those who know how to distinguish an average and a standard novel are mostly from English literature background or literature in any other language. And therefore, by standing on the vantage ground, one should not judge others who don’t have that depth in their literary choices. Nevertheless, one can surely analyse and observe with the experience and literary sensibilities accumulated by reading too much literature of great depth. If a person reads too much suspense fiction, you can easily guess that the person might be looking for something big in his or her life – something that is more like an illusionary treasure… the closer you seem to go, the farther it moves. If a person reads romantic fiction, lack or too much love in his or her life can be the reason with exceptions. If a person reads crime fiction, you might be waiting for the next local bank heist… joking!
To make such attempts at cracking someone’s secret codes in life just by glancing at their reading lists full of novels might be good fun but never the solid substance. So, if you want to enjoy judging, judge by the way one reads a novel and not by the titles of the novel one reads. That will be the real thing.
By Madhav for BookWorm Reviews