Sunday, April 11, 2010

This and That

Every once in a while I get asked about my reading. Not from friends and fellow readers but from general acquaintances and relatives. I always have trouble answering such questions because I am unsure where to start. Sometimes I say, Oh I am in a fiction phase, only to have the questioner assume that I am chasing thieves on bikes or jumping off airplanes on seeing symbols. Then the conversation meanders towards the latest in thrillerdom and have you read this yet and all I can do is shake my head from side to side rather helplessly. At other times, and this is worse, I will be questioned on how I liked Chetan Bhagat's latest just because I said I am reading fiction. Now, you'd think if I'd answered, I read non-fiction these days, I'd be safe. Far from it. Then I will be asked on what I thought of Raj Patel's views or, worse, Arindham Chaudhuri's latest.Of course if the conversation lasted a few more minutes then throw in Malcolm Gladwell and oh so famous Friedman. Nothing wrong with the names you say? Fair enough. But everything wrong with the assumption of what fiction and non-fiction mean.

One, picking out the popular representatives of a category and tossing it in conversation is naive.
Two, the general assumption that fiction is read to kill time (or put yourself to sleep) and non-fiction is read to be better informed (though I will grudgingly accept that there is some truth to this) is irritating.

What do you do with such people? Practise patience or throw the nearest object at them. When people do not know that they do not know it is a complete tragedy. I'd take admission of ignorance any day as long as there is curiosity thrown in.

Rant aside, I wanted to mention about the sidebar to this blog where I put in a recommended books section and then forgot to write about it. You are making money out of flipkart and not a word about it? Shame on you. Whatever. For a while I have been wanting to put some titles on the sidebar that I will be quick to rave about if I were ever to meet you and if you were curious enough to listen. I might have followed that with raving about flipkart my present favourite bookstore. Move aside Landmark (I can't believe you actually had a dump in the middle of your store and called it the 2010 planners section. Your giant is eating you up bit by bit). Flipkart has a glorious collection of books, wonderful customer service and prompt book delivery. Their website is slick and easy to browse. Perfect for me thank you very much. So I put my favourites together, tossed in flipkart's affiliates's code and now you have me recommending books that I love. Jean Stafford's Collected Stories is wonderful and you have heard enough about William Trevor.

G turned two in March and I ran out of my stock excuse of new mom. G is busy learning to talk and string sentences together and I love answering his questions. A while ago I was telling a friend about how I believed in answering my child's questions as honestly as possible and she said, I'll wait and watch. Yes, you there, I heard you too.

Long ago I wrote about gathering data on Osho and indicated that I will write my thoughts on the subject. I made a random remark to a friend comparing JK and Osho calling the former complex and the latter simple. As soon as I said that I realized that the comparison warranted better study. So I have been reading many books by both these gentlemen. I hope to be able to write an informed post in the next few months. Favourites? Well, I like JK's language better because it is more sophisticated. Osho, in English, sounds rather odd and naive. But the interesting bottomline is that they are both saying the same thing. More on that when I get to it.

And before you ask about the 2010 reading list, don't. One and a half and half of one. Instead of John Berger's About Looking, I am reading Selected Essays of John Berger edited by Geoff Dyer.