Listen, I’ll be a little extravagant here and call myself a voracious reader, OK. (Hello? Anybody? Can anyone please vouch for me?) And I read all kinds of books. It’s like you have herbivores and carnivores for food, I’ll call myself an ‘Omnivore’- for books. So yeah, I have read Osho and Paulo Coelho; Chetan Bhagat and Mills & Boons; Rick Riordan and Samit Basu; Nicholas Sparks and Erich Segal (I don’t understand how can somebody mistake it for Sehgal…..I find it hilarious…I mean c’mon…Erich Sehgal? It doesn’t even sound like a writers name!); Agatha Christie and Stephen King, famous ones and unknown ones, international winners and local shelftakers….You got the idea right? An OMNIVORE!
Now the thing is, although I read all kinds and types of material, when somebody asks me “So ok, I gather you read. What’s your favorite genre or like who’s your favorite writer?” (As if we are going to do a match-making and bonding of the souls based on our favorites in books and writers. Although I secretly wish it becomes a trend sooner :-)), I get perplexed and confused.
This fairly common question among readers and listeners, voracious ones and aspiring ones, is quite expected. But I never find myself ever being able to answer it. It’s like you are asking me to choose my favorite one amongst my 4 children (no, I don’t have neither am I planning to have 4 children…it’s just an analogy). How can someone expect anybody to be so insensitive? I can’t have favorites in books and writers. Yes, there are books which I almost hated (hate is a strong feeling and I never get such strong negative emotions when it comes to literature; that’s why ‘almost’) and had to push myself in finishing them(I never leave a book unread once I have picked it up); and there are writers whom I don’t love or respect much.
Having said that, I also have writers whom I passionately follow (recently started this trend) and feel like buying there books as soon as it’s released. But I don’t do that, because at the time, the book will be having soaring prices (Dude, don’t judge me. I’m a salaried person and even I have to manage my expenses). So, I wait. I wait for at least a few months and observe the price closely. As soon as I realize it’s within my budget and I won’t get much discount waiting any longer, I go for it. That’s why you see, I say that I don’t have a favorite. I can never be so crazy about a writer that I would buy an expensive imported hardcover edition of some book (although I love getting them in gifts to adorn my bookshelf, thanks to some awesome friends! :-)) when I can get another simpler paperback cover for less than half the price. I think it’s only fair for my pocket.
Coming to genres, I believe that even if you have read at least a book in every genre, you will have a fair idea what the content looks like, the theme and the kind of narrative it has. So, there have been events when I started reading a specific genre, say romance fiction, and I liked the first book. So I get another one and luckily I like that too. I pick a third and a fourth and loved it. I get a fifth and I get that ‘meh’ feeling. I read a sixth and I’m like ‘what? It was so obvious!’ I pick a seventh and I go like ‘Man, too much drama…not my type’. But is it fair to conclude that I hate romantic fictions? Is it ok to decide ‘I am never going to pick another romance novel ever!’ Absolutely not! That’s too much extremity for me. Maybe I chose the wrong sequence of writers or maybe I was simply unlucky.
Similarly, I used to think that fantasy fiction was my favorite genre when I was reading famous works of readers like Tolkien and Rowling. And then I read some of their not-so-great works. I went ahead to experiment a bit trying some unknown writers (as previous experiments in other categories had resulted in me discovering some real Gems!) and ended up reading really boring pieces and predictable (almost copied) work. But that only led me to make up my mind that neither is fantasy fiction my favorite genre (and none will ever be) nor do I hate it. If I’ll get a real good material, I’ll be as excited and engrossed in it as I would be in any other category of good work.
You can call this a lack of passion in my reading (really? Just because I don’t have favorites?) But I call it part of widening your horizon (which is the aim of reading anyway!).
On a completely different note, have you ever felt a buyers’ remorse with books? …….Think about it 🙂