In defence of my reading

A close close friend of mine said in jest that I read crap. I kind of forgot about till this Sunday when I had to clean my bookshelf. The piles and piles of books that I had to take out, dust, keep back ,and clean the shelf as well were something of a nightmare so I have been putting it off.

I have not alphabetized it yet. And have no plans to do so. This is because I have a rather different way of arranging books. The books need to progress in descending order of size. The smooth curve of the tops of the books as it slides down to the right end of the bookshelf is very soothing for me. Like a graph except it would look like it’s going downhill. I have experimented with various height orders and this is the order that I like the best.

I had just started with the first row of books when I found myself analyzing each book that I had picked up. Why and where did I pick up this book and how much did it cost? Which ones were “crap”? I smsed Anupama to ask does she really think I read crap? And she said that she was joking. Apparently, I don’t read enough crap according to this chiclit lover. But yes, I did find some mistakes, which I admit, were invaluable because I would never go that way again! But yes, I’m not going to judge them too harshly because one never knows which book might speak to you at some time in your life. The biggest example is Disgrace by J.M Coetze. Anu has been coaxing me to read it but for a long time I just couldn’t go beyond the first few pages. In the last couple of days, however, the tide has changed: I suddenly am hooked onto it.

Apprentice by Arun Joshi
I haven’t been able to go beyond the first page of this book. I bought it in Bangalore on a trip with Sylvia. And the reason I got it is because I loved his The Strange Case of Mr. Biswas a lot.

Falling Out of Cars by Jeff Noon
The neighbourhood bookstore had a great sale where books cost almost 70% less and I had to take advantage of it. I bought about 8 books most of which I gifted away. This one sounded interesting so I picked it up. For a long time I didn’t read it. On checking on the Internet, I found only good things written about him. At first, I thought it was a great post-modern nebulous experience. But then I was wrong, I had to force myself to finish it. Maybe it’s me, but really like a good story, well told with plot and structure and all those classical elements.

Then there are books that appeal to the quirky streak in me. They don’t quite gel with the rest of my collection (which is eclectic anyway) but they are there because at that point in time, they looked like a great read to me. They come closest to the crap that Anu wants me to read. Most of them however are young adult/children’s books that I love reading because maybe my inner self is stuck at age 11!

Bubbles A Broad by Sarah Strohmeyer
A detective story about a bumbling ex-beauty queen who solves mysteries with a whole lot of sass and tremendous good luck. Punny asides make the reading fun. This could be classified as chicklit detective.

Samurai Girl # 2: The Book of the Shadow by Carrie Asai
The title and the book cover totally attracted me. Here was one independent girl who has to take care of herself. It didn’t matter that this was the second book in the series and I hadn’t read the first book. Also, the very presence of Japan however shadowy (the action takes place in Los Angeles) makes it a very tempting book for me. The story I found to be okay. Nothing great. But the presentation was great.

The Salaryman’s Wife by Sujata Massey
Another pop Japanese novel! I loved the descriptions of Japan through the eyes of a half Japanese half American English teacher and antique collector, Rei Shimura. This being the first novel, Rei Shimura, accidentally trips on a case while on holiday, which for some reason follows through to its end. I am looking forward to the rest of the series. Pity, I haven’t found it in the bookshops here as yet.

The Paranormal Puppet Show, The Invisible Detective Book One by Justin Richards
I bought this at the same time as Samurai Girl. I loved the idea of an invisible detective. The cover was also very inviting: black, white and orange jostled for creative space. Though the story was a bit confusing, I thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions of 1930s London.

Note: These are NOT images of my bookshelf.

15 thoughts on “In defence of my reading

  1. I remember, long back, a neighbour had put his books on sale–for some dumb reason–(who does it?!)–but his collection was awesome! i bought 13 books the same day! and five are still left. 😀

  2. Omigosh! Whoever said that you read crap? :O
    So now you do have a copy of Billy Biswas? I remember it was on your list of favourites and you were looking for a copy for quite a while! 🙂

  3. I’ve arranged my bookshelf category-wise- Humour, SFF(Science Fiction/Fantasy), Classics, Children’s, Popular fiction, Non-fiction, Quizzing, Bollywood.

    But I haven’t really understood why you let such comments (even by your friends) affect you so much? You will obviously read what you like, and if you are spending valuable time and money on it, it cannot possibly be crap for you… and that is what ultimately matters 🙂

  4. I find arranging books a real pain. I too prefer to sort them according to their height, but the books having different widths are the ones that complicate the process.

  5. Every two years or so, I feel that I was reading nothing but crap, mostly, for the previous years. And yet when I’m reading those books, they seem special. We grow with books, and our perceptions change. The point is not to read what one thinks is crap while one is reading it. Simple na?

    Besides the word crap is such a crappy word. It doesn’t do justice to the subtlities of this process of growing out of something. So I’d say, don’t read too much into *what* your read. How we feel while we’re reading it, that’s the reason we all read, don’t we?


  6. I always wanted to write about this very topic….cleaning book shelves.Mine happens to be on the attic shelves for want of floor space. Nevertheless its neatly arranged.What i have done is to put a divider among categories and each categury is arranged in height order of the books. I love the joy of discovering an old forgotten book during these cleaning sessions. Many are the times when i even pull down Amar Chitra Katha comics and re-read them.

  7. the last sentence is what made me feel good.. ehiehei because i dont have such a good rack. i too arrange in desending size.

  8. Hey I wouldn’t call it crap at fact it’s a treasure chest of knowledge and ideas that you have.As an utter bibliophile like you, I have over 3000 books in my house arranged in all sorts of ways lol..Never thought of indexing them or stuff like that..but I love mah books..I’ll carry them wherever I go!!!

  9. Wow this is such an awesome group of people.I enjoy devouring books too.Hmm wont exactly call any of them crap..though I’ll accept I am not well read at all.But I totally identify with your statement one doesn’t know which book might speak to you at some point in your life.I have had that experience.

  10. Rohit Talwar: Start reading them nah?

    Rita: I am still looking for the same book!

    Obi Wan: Ever the person to come to my aid! I read what I want to. That hasn’t changed but yes it hurts a bit if a close friend says something like that.

    My god, your bookshelf looks like a propah library with subject-wise categorisation!

    Soumyadip: Totally! I agree with you! I let these misfits pile on and then arrange them in some order that looks neat.

    Asuph: Yes and yes, it does capture the subtleties at all. I never considered what I read crap.

    Siri: You can still go ahead and wrte about it, you know. I know. I have discovered old books that I want to re-read them.

    AquaM: I unconditionally support you!

    Known Stranger, Educatedunemployed: Great minds think alike, what say?

    Sudarshan: Thanks! Wow, 3000 is a good number. I that your collection? And please adopt Obi Wan, asap.

    Obi Wan: I have seconded your proposal.

    Kannan: I have done this tag already!

    Nabeel: Thanks but do read the disclaimer for this post!

    Psychacid: Sure! It’s already in the mail. The address is:

    The darkest Corner of the Shadow
    ψυχη δηλειν
    Planet Earth

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