Monday, 3 February 2014

An Average Indian reader

It was my sister’s birthday last month. She loves reading and as obvious as it is, almost all the gifts she received were books. But to her utter displeasure almost half of the lot she received was a Chetan Bhagat, a Sidney Sheldon or a Durjoy Dutta novel. While I do not think the three authors I mentioned are not good writers but the lack of innovation in the gifts was rather disappointing. This led me into a line of thought which made me question if it is the lack of innovation on the gift giver’s part or if it is because of their limited knowledge of the kinds of books available that almost half of the people invited chose the novels authored by these two writers. This further made me probe into the idea of an average Indian reader.

In the age of technology where everything is super quick, reading is a kind of activity which I think is getting tiresome for a lot of people. Most people do not have the time to sit back with a paperback (or their Kindle readers) and peruse it for hours, forgetting the world around them. The number of serious book lovers is in the decline I believe who mark some time in their everyday life and keep it apart for reading.

The others who manage to find some time to read quickly pick up that book their friends have been raving about which is usually a best seller. While best sellers are best sellers because of some valid reasons, limiting one to just the chartbusters will make them deprived of enjoying other books which were not great economical successes but are amazing works of literature. Also, books by authors I mentioned earlier have their share of merits which make them much popular amongst most readers. That being-

·         Easy use of language which gains them readers from all kinds of backgrounds
·         Most of these books are romances and campus stories which most readers can easily relate to
·         Easy availability, number of options and cheap prices
I risk sounding like a book snob who reads only serious works and those which are good works of literature but I’ve always strongly believed what Francis Bacon had said in his essay, Of Studies-

“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested”

which means an ideal reader is one who reads books of all kinds and knows which books are for entertainment and which are for serious reading. I think good readers are people who don’t keep themselves bounded by genres. A good reader will have a collection of books of different types - novels, plays, poetry, short stories, classics, new releases, award winning books, best sellers, fiction, non-fiction, romance, horror, mystery, biography and the likes. Ideally, reading a light entertaining book immediately after a serious one will help keep a healthy balance. I like to read more than two books at a time preferably from different genres so that I don’t get bored. What do you do?

On a lighter note, I came across this picture on reddit and couldn’t stop chuckling -


  1. Ha ha ha, that picture is sooooo true!! Wren & Martin, LOL!! But you're right, a book lover can't really claim to be one without at least sampling all genres, although they'll eventually probably lean towards any one or two. And gifting books is really tricky - I find they're quite personal choices, like perfumes. Loved this piece, Swarnali, well written!!

    1. Hehe....I forgot to mention that we did receive several copies of Wren and Martin when we were younger :P True that, giving the right gift is indeed tricky. If I don't know the personal choices of the person, I prefer giving cash in an envelope or give a neutral gift like personalised photo mugs or stationary. Thanks a bunch for reading ^_^

  2. May the idea of a "Gift Registry" is not suitable for India at present. In the future, if that becomes a reality, friends/relatives of your sister will exactly know what she would like to read. Just a thought.

    1. The idea of a git registry is wonderful but it isn't really popular with people here like you mentioned. I would prefer people give me cash instead of things I will never use. Sometimes, I think people deliberately give away bad gifts to others which they themselves never liked.

  3. that pic is true when we see from the context of a mature book reader. But generally it is the books of Indian writers which connects with the audiences of our country. it is just like comparing a McDonald burger with a broccoli. sure the broccoli has nutrition and all that stuff which is essential for the development of a body, but almost everyone will prefer McDonald burger over it because it has taste. similar is the thing with Indian writers. No doubt that a mature book reader will pick an 'inferno' over '3 mistakes of my life' at any point of time. but an average Indian reader won't do that...he just want to pass his time re living the memory of his college and school life rather than searching for meanings of heavy words of literature written in the books of foreign writers.
    P.S. i have given my opinion for general Indian readers only, i myself would prefer a foreign writer over an Indian one.


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