Saturday, September 03, 2005

Books and us

I have always wondered... why do we like the books we like? Why do some of them seep through our skin and sink so deep into our minds that it becomes almost impossible to purge them out even when we want to?

Has it ever happened that you meet someone... or simply come across someone... and develop a sudden liking... or immense disliking? The other person doesn't even need to open his/her mouth. S/he doesn't need to do anything to deserve to be liked/disliked. All the person's gotta do is be there... at that moment. It happens with me often... well, not with all people. But it has certainly happened with certain people I've met. I agree, there are people who grow on you... and your likings/dislikings may change over time. But that's not what I'm speaking of. Nope, I'm also not talking of how that person carries him/herself... what s/he says... how s/he looks... nothing. As I said, all that person's got to do is to be there.

Sometimes I feel books are like people. Perhaps it is my relationship with books that is like the one with people above. But it happens. You go to a bookstore, and you have made up your mind of getting yourself something to read, and it just so happens that you don't feel like taking home a single book in the damn store. It just doesn't click! And then, sometimes while you are just ambling your time away, you come across this book whose title sounds weird and the author's name is even weirder. But you like it... I don't think it has got anything to do with the author, endorsements, the plot... all the book's gotta do is be there. This wand seller in one of the Harry Potter books says, "You don't choose the wand, the wand chooses you." I think it's something like that. You pick a book from some alcove in the store, and you just connect!! Nope, I'm not talking of the infatuation with title (like the one I had with "If nobody speaks of remarkable things" ... I'm sorry if I got the name wrong... am not too good with remembering those), or the cover design... nope, I'm not speaking of bollywood romances. I'm talking here of a profound connection with the book. Like you pick a book and you feel you've been searching for this... like the book too has been looking for you... and are overwhelmed by this acute need to read it.

It has happened with me so very often. And this phenomenon (can it be called one?) has led to some of the best book discoveries... I've stumbled upon some of my favourite books this way. Like I chanced upon "The Divine Child" while killing time in a bookstore... I picked this book up... and headed straight for the payment counter. The book turned out to be one of the most fascinating and thought-provoking journeys I've embarked upon. Same thing happened with the "Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time" (it wasn't as famous then)... and I was just so pleased with myself for having picked that book up from one forgotten corner during a book sale. The same thing has happened with so many other books as well.

Why... is the question? Why do we like the books we like. Ok, even if we didn't connect with them in the bizarre way described above, why do we still like the books we like? Is it only about the literary skills and sensibilities of the author? Is it only the fact that you liked the last book by the same chap? Is it only about the plot... the emotion... the intrigue... the turn of phrase? We could find these in soooooo many books. But why do we end up liking... or perhaps loving some books so deeply? Do we like them because they remind us of ourselves? Or is it that they portray the lives we'd want to live... or the lives we have lived? Do we like them because they affirm our beliefs... or challenge them? Do we like them because they help us escape reality... or we like them bacause they present it? Why?

Guess I am just an irrational person. I like certain books because... well, because I like them. And I guess books too are like irrational people. They choose me... well, because they choose to.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

very interesting post... keep them coming :)