So I attend this book club at a library that I frequent. After a few meetings, one old man started pestering me to read a book he had written.
They are all old men there. Sometimes I think there are no young men left in the city. At least no young men who read. A handful of people land up at the book club most of whom are there because they are retired. And exactly two women including me. Where are the women who read as well?
You could ask me what am I doing there. Well, about 90% of time, I am conducting it. By that I mean come up with discussion questions and host the session. It’s not that difficult.
Anyway too polite to refuse, I agreed. And immediately regretted it. I had no idea how many pages that book had. I warned him that if I don’t like it I will be honest. He nodded his head vigorously. Right away, I knew I wouldn’t like the book. Thankfully, I got only one chapter to read. I discovered that he had illustrated it too! Well, I told him exactly what I thought of that chapter. I didn’t like it. There was such forced humour and puns without any effort at the craft. Puns, I am sure you’d have heard, are the lowest form of wit. Imagine if there are only puns in a chapter. Of course, I softened it a bit. I didn’t want the old man having a heart attack right there.
I ended the review with a disclaimer that I usually give for anything I review: ‘Feel free to ignore what I said and go with your instinct’. He replied without batting an eyelid, ‘Yes, I intend to do exactly that.’ What the eff? Then why waste my time?
This is the last time I am doing a stranger a favour. I don’t mind reading books of friends because (a) I know them (b) I care about them (c) I enjoy reading what they write because we think alike but strangers are a different species. I’ve made up my mind: I will not be reading books of anyone whom I have just met.