It was in college, when at the end of my tether, that I decided I have strong opinions on books and the world should hear them, whether they liked it or not. There was just one problem – I had not read as many books as I thought I had. Sure, almost definitely more than what my peer group had, but nearly not enough to do what I had in mind – which was this: a new bookstore had opened in the town where my college is located; I decided to get a job there as “an opinion giver” or “an advice giver.” The idea, of course, was to boss people around and tell them what I thought was good for them in terms of literature. Sounded great in my head, except for some minor roadblocks, that included the fact that my lectures concluded at 4 pm, and the hostel curfew demanded I return latest by 6 pm, so that interval isn’t “productively employable.” Another roadblock – and this was a real bummer – was that: that was not a job.
No, I don’t mean it in a “get a real job” kinda way. I mean, literally, that was not a job – there was no such job description, no one was hiring, no classifieds screamed “pompous opinionated bitch wanted.” Nope, none.
I gave up on that idea, and buying more books helped me lick my wounds (not from that bookstore, of course – I had already read all of what that tiny place had to offer).
Fast forward to many years when I read a book oh-so-terrible that my anger knew no bounds. I decided to declare war – against bad literature. I re-logged in to my goodreads account after a gap of many years just because I wanted to rant about this book.
Sadly that was a bad year for me – I had made some really bad decisions and nearly every book that I read was just plain bad. This led to more goodreads rantings. Then things got weird.
Apparently, authors liked my rantings. They wanted me to rant about their books too! Which was okay, because they requested it, but later it didn’t go down too well with them. Well, it’s not my fault now, is it, that I get a little carried away with my cringyness?
And yet, all was as well as things can be – like I said, I was only picking up bad books at the time – it was some kinda curse on me – I might even add that was the year 50 Shades of
Crap Grey became popular, so probably it was a bad time for literature in general. The more bad books I read, the more I fed the little Anton Ego in me, which is what I meant by “all was well.” It was fun playing a judgmental God (“judgmental God” is a little redundant, don’t you think?) for a while, but months and years had sneaked past me and I went from Not-Read-A-Lot-But-Still-Definitely-More-Than-Peer-Group to Hasn’t-Read-Anything-Worthwhile-In-Ages-But-Has-Knowledge-Of-Some–Terrible–Books–Of–No–Literary–Value.
Life is short, and there are a lot of good books, and suddenly I felt like I had lost a lot (a LOT) of time. I was not reading any books that I wanted. Just books that were being requested of me. That gets tiring. Reading does not remain a hobby any more. It becomes a JOB. Why am I complaining, cos isn’t that the job I wanted in the first place? No! I like reading what I want to read. Not what I am reading on a deadline because I have to. Now, my brain has been rewired to such an extent that I can’t read for the pure joy of reading. I am constantly looking for loopholes, for those “Ah-ha! Gotcha” moments to write about. In short, I am not enjoying a book so much as ripping it to shreds.
See, kids, this is what war does to you. No matter how good (?) your intentions, no matter how much cleansing you want to do, no matter how many trees you want to save from becoming terrible books, you ultimately become the villain, the Jack-the-Ripper-of-Books.
The world of reviewing is not all bad. I discovered this gem of a book because I became a reviewer, so I can’t wholly complain. In fact, the main problem here is probably my inability to say no. Or that I am a bad judge of back cover summaries, because they always sound enticing, if you ask me! But here’s the deal now – from now on, I am on a race – to make up for all that lost time. I am going back to classics and popular bestsellers (don’t worry, this does not mean I will rush into the comforting covers of a Chetan Bhagat book – I will still be prudent about the bestsellers I choose to read). I will try not to make mental notes of the good and the bad. For a while, I will try to wire my brain back to that of a reader, and not a harsh critic.
The world of bad literature can wait. I need to be my own superhero right now.