At this phase of my life, while talking to strangers or some people whom I might have to befriend, it is not that difficult to pick up conversations. I mean, come on, having travelled so much, having met with people you would like to believe do not even belong to this world, keeping in touch with some snobbish friends because they were good to you once upon a time, and people with different cultures and traditions, you gotta talk to everybody at length. I for one, would get bored to be with somebody, by any stroke of luck that may be, wherein the other person doesn't talk. (Though my office colleagues might think am lying).
And indeed, if you have nothing else to talk, weather comes to rescue. So the question above; I am finding myself at the asking end of this open-ended question too often these days. Yes, so mostly people tell me they do not read. And I respond with, oh, I love reading! I read all types: fiction/non-fiction, all genre! Yes, i do like well read people. But then, what if s/he turns out to be those "well read" people whom I think I am not.
Well, for starters, I read this post while going through IdeaSmithy's blog.
Interesting read, definitely.
So the question that pops up in my head is "Am I really into reading?" (may be its lingering around for long)
For starters, the school that I went to did not boast of a good big library. Well, my sibling did catch up on reading much before I did, but then I somehow do not remember being engrossed to any books other than Enid Blyton's as a kid. Slowly, the sibling moved to classics and talked about how wonderful the Queen's language is. I did not follow the passion, but when the conversation turned to books, I could participate. I would divulge into details. Then, the sibling started talking about how movies are been made out of books, and how she wishes to see this one and that one. So, I tried to follow up on the books before catching up the movie. And slowly, steadily, my "Read" shelf started increasing. I remember gifting the sibling a copy of Shakespeare's work on some 14th birthday. And I never have read that book, till date.
Yes, I am not a big Shakespeare fan. Give me some book that may hook me in other ways. I can follow and quote a few such classic quotes here and there, but nothing more. So, I have not ever read Hemingway or Cummings. (gasp?) There are a few of these classic authors who does grab my attention, but then my memory fails me time and again to remember some details unlike say any of the Stieg Larsson novels.
I have read most of the Agatha Christie novels. I had started some nice sci-fi books while in my first year college. I simply absolutely love Tintin and Archies. I love Enid Blyton, who was later replaced by Jeffrey Archer, PG Wodehouse, Robin Cook, Jane Austen, Erich Segal, Erle Stanley Gardner, Sidney Sheldon, and the likes. I also liked reading and even still would do, Tinkle, Champak, Chacha Chaudhroy. I flinch with the name of Nora Roberts or some of the Daniel Steel. AT times, even Indian authors fascinate me, though not all. I regularly update my shelves on goodreads and religiously review each book I read, more or less.
But now, I am just feeling that may be all this does not count as reading. I get hooked to Harukami and Pamuk the minute I start their books. I cherished reading Persepolis & Maus (the only graphic novels that I have). But may be, the real reader is someone who reads a lot. And understands classic, loves classic.
Greek mythology, Shakespearean stuff, you give them anything. They can remember the characters vividly. I cannot. If I were to be taken to an Opera for a date, or be at some book reading discussing "Classic English Literature" I would so miserably fail to gather the nuances of the show.
The sibling also feels the same. When she read "Snow", she said you woudn't like it. When she read "Kafka on the shore" she nodded her head the same way. When she read "Memoirs of Geisha" I was told the same. But surprisingly, all three of them fall in my "Like you very very much" shelf.
What if I were to met a well-read guy, who likes reading fiction too! (Well-read might just mean, read and liked stuff which I generally do not like or gather. The ones that are kinda a "MUST HAVE" on a book lover's shelf!) Will I find self questioning once again? Or the list of my "Read" and "To read" good?
For all that I may care, I am happy and suffice to know and understand the language. I still remember the joy of reading "Kafka on the shore" or "To kill a mockingbird" Such is the language. It evokes an emotion out of me, which I fail to describe in words (irony?). I love the feeling.
And to think about this, well, professionally, I have made a career in something that I love the most...Science and English :) So there, I am doing what I am liking, and I do not care (yes, yes..umm..i think, yes) whether I am "well-read" or not!
I never thought about all this, until I read that post, and I realized I have read, but may be I am not a girl who reads. May be, I am not girl who would wanna buy a book before buying clothes. May be, I would never exchange my wardrobe space for books.
But may be, I will be the girl smelling the pages of a yellow book. May be, I am the girl who is reading books at a coffee shop, in a crowded Mumbai local, and in the auto if light permits. May be, I am the girl who might name my kids weird, may be, just may be, the nick names I keep for people I love are characters etched in my mind via some literary help. (PS: Jessie Kovats, Richard Kane, Lisbeth, Mitch Mcdeere, and Nandini)