Huh! When I first had this thrown in my face, I was incredulous. I mean, you just read, didn’t
you? It was for the writing that needed the art, didn’t it? If he did not keep you engrossed, it was he who was failing in his art, right? But try explaining that simple thing to my friends.
“You claim to read, Suresh! But when they made you, they forgot to put in the art of reading in you.”
“What art of reading? I can read as well as anyone here? Why, I even understand some big
words and, as for the others, I can always look up Wikipedia.”
“If the next Harry Potter book was released simultaneously with the movie, would you still buy and read the book?”
“Once I see the movie why do I need the book? I know the story, right, and I do not need to
imagine a Hermione Granger when I can see Emma Watson. No brainer, guys.”
I could have, and should have, bitten my tongue. Of course, I KNEW what answer would get
their approval but my tongue just HAS to speak before I stopped to think.
“THERE you go. For a true reader, the pleasure IS in exercising his imagination; for you it is a
“Yup!” chimes in the other. “He just wants to go rushing from incident to incident. As long as the writer keeps the incidents exciting, he will not be bothered about the logic of the story. The sort of guy who is quite happy with the murderer being the butler, even if he is introduced in Chapter 29 just in time to be disclosed as the murderer in Chapter 30.”
“So, what’s wrong with liking it? It IS a twist, isn’t it?”
“Yes! Like asking you a multiple choice question and surprising you with an answer that is not in the choices.”
“To each his own, guys! He likes just hanging his brain out to dry, while reading. You guys like to read, noting the clues, and trying to put them together to find the murderer before he is disclosed; and taking pleasure if the author manages to surprise you, still.”
“Yeah! I just want to be entertained. What is the point in a book that exercises my brains? It seems too much like work.”
“Well, laddie, some people solve Sudoku, some solve crosswords and they think it is entertainment, too. Why do you assume that all entertainment has to avoid your stressing about whether you really do have a brain?”
“Come, now! He likes his entertainment to give his brain a holiday; I like it that way sometimes and intellectually engaging sometimes; you prefer it to engage your brain all the time. So, why quarrel about it?”
“So, Ok, fine. But what is the point of all those books about poverty and all that? I mean, you might as well read a sociology text. And those books that keep on and on about what a man thinks…nothing much happens in them. Whoever can get entertained reading them?”
“You keep supporting this guy? I am willing to grant that it is alright to be entertained without needing to engage the brain. But this…he thinks that if a book cannot be read with the brain in neutral gear, it is automatically boring.”
“Yeah! I’d say the main purpose of reading is to give a different view-point of the world; or give a window the way other people lead their lives; or give rise to self-questioning….
“Each of us seeks what he wants from reading, guys. Let us just accept that we are all differently wired. The only problem is that you all seem to be intent on proving that the way YOU are wired is the only right way to be; and that a book that does not hit the spot for you is not worth writing.”
For once, everyone, including me, was yelling at someone other than me. It was all his fault for not realizing that ‘My way is the only right way’ is not an idea exclusively restricted to reading!
Suresh's book is one no to be missed. Read more about it in my spotlight post. I've also had the pleasure of reading the book and conversing with the writer. Do check them out as well!