A question, Gentle Readers

We are – most of us, at least, voracious readers. We read, we write and we comment. That is our main occupation in life. All the other things that we do …. is just to pay the bills.

Talking of myself – I have spent a life time reading. My father was an avid reader and I read Hemingway’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls” and Maugham’s “Of Human Bondage” in school. I just picked them off his book shelf and read them, not knowing or caring they were classics. Its another matter that I was not in High School and simply did not understand them. I still read any printed word, even the paper bags made out of newspaper.

I go to book stores and buy books simply on the basis that “It called to me” or “I liked the blurb” or “I like the author” and even “I read a few pages and thought I would enjoy it” Sometimes people recommend a book, other times I read a nice review.

Now to my question ….. Why do you read the book you are reading? Why do you buy a book?

Most books have plots and themes that have already been written about. There are love stories, fables, ghost tales, thrillers, sci fi, paranormal (Oh I said that before!), inspirational and other books. What makes you buy a book to read?

Would love to know the answer


63 thoughts on “A question, Gentle Readers

  1. Just like you I read books without knowing they were classics! They were books, something to read. And yeah, anything and everything was read.
    Nowadays its a combination of a lot of things that makes me pick up a book, the blur, a review, someone’s recommendation or even downright criticism. I find some book being discussed and reviewed online and I make a mental note to read it. Heck I have a list of books I have collected over time from different blogs and I am going through them one at a time.
    I am partial to a certain author and everyone knows who he is πŸ™‚ But other than him, I read a whole lot of others too… little known or famous doesn’t matter.

  2. Hmm a very good question.. WHy i read the book.. OK the credit goes to my dad and granddad they use to ask me read, My english teacher Mr. Sidhu also had this idea that each time we read a book no matter what , we pick up words that we can use in Our vocabulary.. So thats how it started with me..

    What got me going was in my 10th class we had a collection of poems the book was called panorama, it had peoems from all the great ones, Keats, shelly, wordsworth and Our principle did this Poem “THe passing of King Arthur”.. Mr. KAshayap HE got so passionate about it, he was only 5ft 4 or 5 inch, bald .. with a long teachers gown, throwing his arms around telling us story of Sir Bedeviere, the excalibur and so on.. THats When I started to read books OFfcourse OUTSIDE of the curriculum πŸ™‚

    So Now i read Anybook, I like fiction though.. and i make a mental note of some words used and try to use them in my articles or speech.. Nowadays I am into Books written by Indian authors.. Khushwant singh, Gargi, and History ones especially the SIKHS in World war II and Sikh history of Sikh generals.. Just to broaden my views and knowledge…

    • That is truly a great teaching moment. It inspired you. Sikh history – hmmm, interesting. I am totally fascinated by the Tudors. I have phases, first it was the Italian medieval times, now the Tudors

  3. The deciding factor is the first few pages. I always stand in a bookshop and read some pages of the book before it. If the first few pages manage to captivate me, I almost always end up liking the book!! Another thing that attracts me is a unique and different story line or plot.
    Then there are some authors I simply have to buy as soon as the book releases coz I love their writing style – such as Ruskin Bond and Gerald Durrell

  4. I read anything and everything. I used to pick up books from the library based on the latest best sellers list, based on what interested me. Some of the authors that I like, I keep track of the latest releases and try to get hold of them. These days, I get a lot of recommendations from the blog world too. When it comes to buying, I am selective and buy only what I think I will re-read. So I end up buying books that I have already read too, just because I feel I would want to read it again. Am reading Shantaram right now and cannot put it down – it is a wonderful wonderful read.

  5. U know I still don’t know how I got hooked to reading, neither my mom nor dad have ever been readers… infact they still just dont get it how we read so many books…. but I remember starting sometime in school with Enid Blyton and then never stopping… in school I used to read whatever was available in the library but soon as college and pocket money started I started saving for books and would buy some books now and then… and now I can’t survive without books….

    how, why and when I buy books…. well u have listed almost all the reasons I buy a book in ur post… some reco it, like the book, sometimes even the cover… just the cover of the book sometimes will make me buy it (yes yes I know never judge a book by the cover πŸ˜‰ ) these days blogs are a means of getting lot of reviews and knowing which to read and which to skip

    then there are these social book sharing sites like shelfari and all… i am there on good reads currently and must tell u its good…

    but somehow even if I read some excellent reviews there are some books I stay away from like self help books… never worked for me

    phew a mini post must end it now πŸ™‚

  6. I buy books the same way you do Ritu. If it reads good, pick it up. I read classics when I was in my early teens and still continue to do so. Sometimes when nothing strikes my fancy, i just pick up a classic or a Calvin or Hobbes. That can never go wrong! πŸ™‚ I stay away from chick-lit and self help.

    Plus like yours, my family is a reader family. So I get book suggestions aplenty. Plus our tastes are pretty much the same so it often happens that something I’ve read suddenly becomes the family favourite and vice-versa.

    • We all have such different reading tastes. My elder son loves reading non-fiction. Currently he is reading a book on Genghis Khan. Junior is more into music than reading books. I love sci fi and DIL reads anything to do with design and architecture. It does bring variety into the house

  7. The habit of reading developed in school..we had a good library and my dad encouraged us. When i began wearing glasses at the age of 7 my neighbors blamed my mom..for letting me read the whole day πŸ™‚
    Selection of books…well during school and college days it was always based on reviews given by friends and availability.. When a friend of mine started a Library, i read almost all books he had
    Buying books….. usually i do that just b4 i go on a holiday and i just browse thru the stall and am drawn towards some books and authors..nothing fixed
    now, i hardly ever have the time to select and read a book …so i end up reading books which my kids buy. they ahve also got the ‘reading’ habit and so i do get hold of some bestsellers

  8. I love books . But I like nonfiction and motivational books. Also read some magazines. Through the books I will get inspiration and new ideas. I am really eager to know the characters of different peoples and how they manage their life in their difficult times. Also I try to implement some characters or hobbies of such good personalities. I also have one habit of underline the good sentences with the pen. The main objective of my reading is to invest in myself and to improve a good character.

  9. I started reading at an early age…don’t really remember when but my mom worried about me being a real bookworm. She would keep trying to push me out of the house to even play with….boys. I would join all the possible local libraries and read everything that I could get my hands on. I would read the newspaper upside down across the breakfast table, while my Dad read it.
    When I was enciente, I read more than one book a day and the doctor used to joke that instead of the proverbial silver spoon,she would be born with a book in her hand. I even read during my labour pains and it led the nurses to wrongly presume that my ‘time’ was a long way off. And yes, she is an even more voracious reader than I ever was. I wasn’t so selective about what I read, but she is. Too much of highbrow stuff for my liking….philosophy and politics and religion and music.
    I still am a big fan of PG Wodehouse and I do so love the classics. Comics remain a big favorite, especially Snoopy and Calvin and Hobbes.
    Today I download books and read them but there is nothing like the feel of turning the pages of a REAL book. I always read the last few pages of a book after reading the first few, especially if it is a mystery one….I tell myself that I like to see if the author is able to keep her storyline in place accurately. πŸ˜‰

  10. My mom got me into the habit of reading. Both my parents read a lot and my bro and me have picked up this habit. When I was younger, I used to just pick up books to complete the series like Famous Five, Secret Seven, Nancy Drew etc. But, now, I pick up based on reviews from friends, blogs etc irrespective of author, just that I try to stick to fiction.

  11. A few years ago I used to go to Crossword or Granth, pick up one of their baskets and dump whatever book caught my fancy. I paid the price for that when I had to move cities and had to pay a bomb to get the books transported and there was no room in my parents’ house for them, and I couldn’t bring them to the US.

    Now I buy books that I have already read, that I know would offer me more insight on repeat reads, like classics, or the Harry Potter Series or I buy books that I am DESPERATE to read and aren’t available in the library yet, like the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series or Eclipse!

    • Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series is just awesome. Ludlum type … but even more gripping. I remember not sleeping more than an hour each night for a week. Yes I read them in a marathon session. Ended up with fever 😦

  12. Good question, Ritu!! I read, because sometimes, I want to laugh. And sometimes I want to cry. Either way, I live vicariously through the books I read πŸ™‚ But mostly, I read to ‘feel’ and ‘live’.

  13. I started reading when I was quite young… 6 or 7 perhaps… During those days I used to read those children’s magazines that used to come out every week (and maybe still do!) – champak, nandan, bal bharti and others.
    I discovered Enid Blyton while in 8th std, and have never looked back ever since!
    Another thing… I love to read books again and again.. I must have read I, Robot like… 10 times!

  14. My mom is a good writer and she reads a lot mostly in telugu.

    In school we had a good library and twice a month we were allowed to take books home,so that time i used to read champak,twinkle,saritha(hindi) etc.After school my reading books was nil.
    Once i started reading blogs,i got inspired by IHM and took her list of books and read almost all the books which she mentioned.So basically i try to buy the books whose review i read.Recently i got enrolled in a library here.

  15. Riju ji, as much as love to read I have a fear of picking up a book without reading reviews. I seriously feel its a waste of time if we don’t know what to expect out of the book. That said I trust few blogs/authors and always trust their insticts and thanks to all the cool websites which give very good reccomendations based of previous reads,sometimes its almost like it knows my mind :). What do you think of digital books, can you still feel the same way reading digitized versions ? I am still getting used to it.

  16. I read to escape. For a brief time, you dont exist. Your world is the world of protagonist who has trials and tribulations yes.. but in the end everything falls in place.. and best of all.. they have love. In the end.

  17. I read anywhere and everywhere. On a flight, at the airport, on way to the airport, in the restroom, in a bus, in a train, on the roof, basking in the sun, before going to bed at night, first thing when I wake up in the morning and what not.

    I prefer fiction, crime stories, legal fiction, crime, thriller, crap, nonsense, kiddy stories, yes, I still love my Enid Blyton’s!

    I read to escape from the stress of the daily grind. I guess that’s just about it.

    Very thoughtful post!

  18. Though I do not get time to read books, I read everywhere be it the things purchased, wrapped in a newspaper, posters etc. I guess we read books because that gives us nice stories of our interest, increase knowledge and act as a stress buster. They are also a good way to pass time when we travel.

  19. I am not in that category of voracious reading, I don’t buy a book until it really interests me. What I read most is some blogs, but I am too lazy comment, you see! πŸ˜›

    For me blogs, make up for better read. Having a good phone helps, I read most on it! Blogs give me friends and direct interactions, which a book can, never! πŸ™‚

  20. I love what you said and I cannot put it better, so yeah, I pick books because they call out to me.. no other reason.

    I never had anyone who read a lot at home. My dad devoured two newspapers every morning and that was all the reading he needed. Mom simply didn’t read. I went to school and the day I discovered the library remains crystal clear in my memory. It was like chancing upon a treasure. I had friends who never read. So I used to bribe them into using their weekly book issues to get me books I wanted, and finish theirs and mine in the one week we were allowed. Ah the good times.. I read every single Enid Blyton in that library, the entire Malory Towers series, the entire Nancy Drew series and something called the Goosebumps series in one year flat.. I am surprised I didn’t flunk that year πŸ˜€ Ah, the good times! Over the years, there were many phases – the trashy romances, the classics, the thrillers, everything about the Holocaust, the medical stuff and many many more. Now, it’s the Indian authors.

    I follow only two rules: No self-help books and no meditation stuff. In the past, I have broken both rules and picked up “You Can Win” by Shiv Khera (found it very contrived) and “Eat Pray Love” (found it pretty readable, but not like bestseller stuff), so the rules stand πŸ™‚

    I don’t know why I told you all this.. but I loved the post and the comments as well, thought I’d share some interesting stuff too!

  21. Oh Ritu….I love to be lost in the magical world of WORDS….so I read and my husband is scared that I’ll forget to cook, when I get lost in a book !!! πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰

    I think my eyes always reads the prologue or intro or the small preview at the back of the book – and I look for strong women characters, to lead the story – they motivate me, inspire me and make me come alive.

    Apart from that, now thanks to blogo frnds, I read some of their recommendations from the book reviews.

    The recommendations for books are never ending – from so many ppl around me….its difficult to choose sometimes.

    Right now, after my shift to Chennai, I’ve stopped buying books, but totally living in my library… πŸ˜‰ Its good to have a good library near home. πŸ™‚

    Smithu, I am also reading Shantaram and My God, its amazing and I am totally hooked. πŸ™‚

    • I wish I had a library near by. You are so lucky. But its good in a way – I think I would forget to go to work if I had unlimited books to read. I am such a huge addict. I forget to eat, sleep, cook …. I am that bad

  22. I have particular authors I adore and genres that I prefer. For example I usually avoid crime-thrillers and such..It seems like I have a love-hate relationship with Stephen King horror stories. I enjoy his flawless gripping narration but I hate the depressive atmosphere it creates.
    When it comes to buying I always go for the classics. For they are meant to be read and re-read. Austen, Bronte, Jules Verne, Oscar Wilde, Dickens, Maupassant are in my collection.
    For modern fiction like urban fantasies and thrillers by Dan Brown, Grisham, Baldacci and romance novels I usually make do with e-books.

  23. Been a lurker for some time now.
    Enjoy reading ur posts.
    I got into the habit of reading books, because whenever we went to our native place (which was quite often) my dad would buy me and my brother one book each for the journey. They were supposed to be swapped in the return journey.
    My brother wouldn’t complete even one and I would be done with both and be demanding more.. That is where I cultivated the reading habit.
    As for book selection, I like reading fiction, but can read pretty much any stuff except the self learning books. I get the reviews through the blogs and buy them.

  24. True to the adage that stories don’t matter
    but more important is its master
    I have a names of a few writer
    whose books I read to a tatter
    occassionally I become a drifter
    and come up with some treasure.

  25. Well I am very specific in what I read in novels and that is mystery and comedy. So I buy a book after knowing its genre and its review.

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