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Choosing the right read

I’m not sure if it has anything to do with my obsessive compulsive disorder condition, but I can never leave a book mid-way and go on to read a new one. I take my own sweet time to pick a book, and might even take a long time to complete reading it, but I never abandon it mid-way. I know it’s not possible to judge a book by its cover or by the first few pages, so I proceed in the hope that it would get better. What if the story had a good twist, and what if I missed it? Sometimes it gets better, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s a risk that I know I have to take. And a good book makes it worth the risk.



A friend of mine, who is also a voracious reader, sets a book aside the moment she loses interest. Even if it is within the first 20 pages, once she is convinced the book has nothing better to offer she puts it down. When we happened to discuss our reading habits, we realised that we represented two extremes. We joked about how everyone should have a threshold, which would be entirely subjective. She said the threshold should be slightly higher for her (so that she doesn’t miss a book which might get better with the story) and slightly lower for me (so that I wouldn’t have to waste my time reading not-so-good books), considering our reading habits. Fair enough!



Sometimes it gets better, sometimes it doesn't: this is a risk you take



Fortunately for me, I’ve never regretted reading any book. There have been very many books that I wouldn’t have particularly enjoyed, but I’ve no regrets. Thanks to blurbs (and a few random pages), they help me decide whether it is the kind of book that I would like to read. But there is more to a book than what it says in the blurbs. So there is an element of suspense in that, if not for the story. Yes, there have been instances when the plot would’ve been weak, or the plot would be a cocktail of two or more old plots, and there would be unnecessary deviations, characters and what not. But I wouldn’t go to the extent of calling them bad. As long as there is at least one person who likes the book, I feel it can never be bad. It’s just that I might not have liked it. So, when someone who wanted to start reading (it’s never too late, you know!) asked me how I could find out if a book was good enough, I couldn’t give a convincing answer. What I consider good might not be considered the same by others. Since I don’t have any fool-proof system and I end up kicking myself every now and then for choosing certain books, I’m not comfortable recommending books to people. If I’m in a situation where I have to recommend a book, I’d safely add a disclaimer saying I enjoyed it, but there are a few who didn’t. And for the same reason, I avoid buying a book just by reading a review.



Since I come from a family of voracious readers, my sister and father helped me initially by picking out books for me and recommending their favourites. Gradually I could read blurbs and find out, to an extent, if I would enjoy reading a book. Now I know what people mean when they say some things can be learnt only from experience! There are many aspects which have to be considered before one comes to a conclusion about the book. For me it’s the story and then the writing style and of course the characters. And if the book has something that I can relate to, I’d love it all the more. If you know what you’re looking for when reading a book, choosing the right one becomes easy. But the point is, do you know what you are looking for?



cnashwini@gmail.com

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Printable version | Aug 7, 2020 7:28:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/choosing-the-right-read/article7271884.ece

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