Wednesday, April 10

Musings of a confused reader


Image Source : here

I have been reading a few books lately, maybe a tad bit more than my usual numbers. Pausing for a while to steal back a glance, it dawns on me that i have been savouring a couple of varying genres back to back, with equal alacrity and inquisitiveness, an ardent spark which unfortunately, incepts only once in a while every year.

There has been a thought penting up all this while too, rather a conclusion, something similar to the music or lyrics scenario when it comes to judging a song. Replacing the concerned terms, the million dollar question when it comes to books would be : 'Which matters the most to you - Story or the style ?'

There are authors who dissect each shred of sun's ray to its minutest layer concentrating on its spellbinding anatomy and contrarily there are authors who tend to sideline the nature to a mere statement and pass on to delve in more practical and pragmatic nuggets and there is yet another group who are oblivious to the mysteries of nature, but has gripping and fine tuned stories which leave you glued to the pages from end to end. 

There are readers who would devour a book for the sole purpose of satiating their passion and there are readers who in addition to sufficing their urge to read, utilise a book as a means to polish their own grip on language - the aspiring author bunch. For some its the fast paced propulsion of the story that matters, but for some, the succulent details and subtleties would be the elixir. I have seen people who chuck away a Amitav Ghosh and the likes ranting about its monotonous pace, instead they relish each and every word of the burgeoning pile of those ' You - may not - like - how -  i - say - it - but - you - will - definitely- like - what-  i - have- to - say ' kind, like there is no tomorrow. 

Is it just me, for i do feel that a realistic fiction written in superlative language is more appealing and engrossing than a thriller tagged one or for that matter any book contrived using a mediocre array of words and a bland style. On the contrary, definitely a thriller if sprinkled with an enviable choice of words can sometimes be the best too! And so is a book rich in enlightening or contemplative nuggets though written in a simple and lucid manner. Briefing it, i guess a good book for me is an amalgamation of good content and elegant style with equal weightage to both. Its not the story alone that matters, at least not so for me , but the  richness of the content and the way it is conveyed. There might be naysayers to this theory, but i believe i am not alone in this regard.

I strongly believe that getting published, to this day, hasn't become a smooth joyride devoid of bumpy obstacles, though the current publishing scenario might seem like one and i highly respect and admire the perseverance with which those books have been crafted. But somehow, a bunch of those books doesn't seem worthy enough of the time or effort from the part of the reader. On the other hand, good writers who are obstinate about getting their work published by an acclaimed publishing house get rejected, and they live with their worries for they are purists who are against the idea of self publishing. (On a serious note , with no tinge of sarcasm, do good books get released in that manner?)

There was a time when as a kid, i used to look upon published writers as the most gifted people in the world. They were mature people who wrote sensible stuff and had me reading late into the night while i rejoiced in the sheer beauty of the world they led me to. Now i see a published author in every other alley, some classy, but the others way too clumsy and casual; i see toddlers, teenagers and even infants signing their published books in every other corner and the confused and flabbergasted me has made it a habit to search the web for reviews before grabbing a freshly churned out book to read, instead of the usual norm of reading whatever one could lay one's hands on. On the other side of the coin, there are subdued prolifically penned works too whose existence is sometimes masked by the shimmering book releases of the over hyped ones.

It seems all that glitters isn't pure gold after all, especially not in today's world. It is high time we imbibed those proverbs rather than merely acknowledged them. Seriously. 


53 comments:

  1. I agree with you Maliny. The same thing is happening with me too....there was a time when i liked every book i read but today it's not the same! It's really hard to decide whether to pick up the book just by looking at it's cover or not, even the reviews given are misleading.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true Bushra. Thank you for agreeing. .

      Delete
  2. True Maliny. Co-incidentally, I am also reading lot of books (read fictions), and am little confused. I am reading books, which have not been in web, at least i haven't seen or heard about them at all, and picked them up, mostly instinct-based, and some reading only the title (not even one was love story, my most favorite genre!) and I found there were some amazing pearls which are still shelled alone , sans any publicity. I wonder, sometimes when we get that urge to write a book, where we would fit into, at first place, would we too get lost in that crowd of strugglers?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have thought about it too. But then, the best we can do is to write for us and keep our fingers crossed, and maybe trust the editor or the publisher to give their best too.

      Delete
  3. It has become confusing to choose the right book. The worse is when I order for something and comes out to be another. Still life goes on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for the visit Neelam. I am glad to see that you agree. .

      Delete
  4. Books, ah they are like salvation for bibliophiles like us :) Honestly, my choices in books have varied a lot as I grew up. But I am confused when some people heap praises on a particular book and I, all excited go and buy the book, just to throw it away after the first 10 pages or so. For example-Eat, Pray Love, when people were raving about the book, I couldn't even finish the it and couldn't understand what the hype was about the book. Although I have a confession to make- I love chick lit, (not the romantic ones). There was a time when I just couldn't get enough of them :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Books are read for fun too right, prasanna. That way, chick lits are a light read and can be truly entertaining too. But then there are badly written ones there too, written focussing merely on the fun part. That is what takes away the richness. Eat, pray and love was too boring for me too. I guess its the movie rendition which granted the book that hype.

      Thank you so much for the words Prasanna :)

      Delete
  5. You are right! There will always be difference between books of RK Narayan and Chetan Bhagat.

    But a lot you can judge from the book cover and a little bit of research!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True himadri . . thank you so much for the comment :) seeing you here after long :)

      Delete
  6. I think the most important aspect of good writing is keeping the audience interested in what you're saying. Don't ramble on too much, and let the paper flow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is what that works, i feel so too sir . .

      Delete
  7. I concur with your thought. We don't get "really great" literature anymore. But yes, there are a few on the shelf that spell classy and intelligent!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for agreeing and for the visit :)

      Delete
  8. it's difficult for me to comment on this post because i don't read books. guess, both are important - story and style (as you mentioned) but i seriously don't like those who read only to polish their own writing skills. they neither read a book for the purpose for which it was written nor they offer unique contents to their readers (even though they just try to polish their language by reading books but they eventually end up copying the style and idea as well).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What you have observed is so true Deb. And you don't read books? why so? You have extremely good vocabulary, so i though you must be an avid reader. Or am i being judgemental? There isn't any such criteria i guess. Nevermind:)

      Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving behind your opinion. Means lot:)

      Delete
  9. Maliny,

    As a fellow reader, I can completely understand your angst.

    However, while I was reading this blogpost I was thinking, "Now she'll give an example, now she'll give an example ... ." But one never came. :D

    I wish you had given examples of books that made you think either way - ones where you think style triumphed over substance as well as the ones where you think substance may have trumped style. An example or two of the ones you thought were just right would have been nice too. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wasn't intending to write a long post actually. Maybe thats why it got stunted at certain places. Anyways glad that you read it through and found time to comment :)

      Delete
  10. Malini you are correct.It is the content of the book that really matters,The cover and and reviews are of no significance. The readers are now more choosy and intelligent and not carried away by frills and feathers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, usha ma'm. Even i have become choosy these days!

      Delete
  11. well... while I read your emotions and the other fellow bloggers, I feel a little out of place ...I've always been disliking reading (except history and true incidents) until I started reading fellow bloggers. Yet I would like to express my views.Isn't it the same with blogging as well?Blogging and e-publishing has opened gates for novice and toddlers in true sense !!
    Its astonishing that many people who write so well even in the blogging arena rarely have any visitor and many who do not even make sense .. are crowned with all E- Awards.
    At the end,its all about individual choice of a reader and the marketing willingness and/or strategy of a writer !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is so. But i guess these strategy is what reigning the market these days. But there are sensible readers amongst us too who pick up the talented ones from the lot and ignore the much publicised not worthy ones. The bloggers who don't get comments inspite of good content would one day or the other make it big, if they hold onto their talent and go for the bigger platform. Atleats so i believe.

      Delete
  12. In a great book, the style and story are intermingled to the point of being indistinguishable. The style suits the story and the story suits the style. That said, each real writer has a separate imprint. The con-artists do not have a style of their own. At best, they are caricatures of the true authors they dream to imitate.

    You have correctly observed that getting published doesn't guarantee greatness in a work, as they say,'Everything glitters is not gold'.

    Loved your fine musings. It pains me however, to see gratuitous use of small case in a fine writer like you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did have second thoughts on posting this too. As the title says, the post was written in bits, with no intention to make a story out of it. These are facts which readers don't need to be enlightened about. That you expect me to delve into more serious matters is a matter of joy actually:) I deeply apologize for the let down. But many thanks for the wonderful inputs and for taking time to read the post. Most of all for the reminder:)

      Delete
  13. I am net savvy . I read everything from internet even hindu scriptures and texts of my interests. I never thought I would be a writer and a reader and would write post any day . But today I am doing it and reading many blogs. I don't know how and why?

    Any way nice read enjoyed reading as always

    Travel India

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In a way blogging is good. It keeps the habit alive. And that is so better than wasting time indulging on networking sites for the sake of fun alone.

      Delete
  14. Every written word be it for a post or an article or ultimately a book must gel well to appear like a natural flow for readers delight! If that cannot happen one loses interest!

    ReplyDelete
  15. We live in a world that promises almost everyone 10 second-fame. So many writers today. I'm a little worried to see the kind of books that my students read these days - worse than the pulp of the olden days. Nothing can be done about it. The pulp has come to rule!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree! There continue to be better ones too. But these days it has become a herculian task to dig out the best due to the gazillion books piling up.

      Delete
  16. I think the bottom line is that any book worth reading requires both – good writing and good story-telling. So it would be fair to say that style and substance go hand in hand. On the other hand you can get books like Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast. A book that has no plot as such but when you read it you just savour the imagery that he conjures up with an economy of words:

    “You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person died for no reason.”

    I think there has always been a target audience for different styles of writing. It is estimated that around 50% of the sale of fiction books falls under the category of Mystery, Thriller and Crime. The second most popular book genre was Science Fiction with 26% of readers buying Sci Fi books, ‘Literature’ was close on its heels with 24% and Romance is worthy of a mention with 21% of the market. Come to think about it there was no Steampunk genre till the mid 80s. But I suppose the point is that people read the genres they like, style and substance have different interpretation to different people.

    But to get back to your original topic of style vs substance, great writing, on the other hand, doesn’t just hold your attention; it grabs it, controls it and commands it. You lose yourself in the book and time goes by. You'll only put it down when you have finished reading it and then it's time to start reading it again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your input Subroto. I agree to your points and i am happy to find most of them striking a chord with my observations.

      Delete
  17. True. The books that are being flaunted as national best sellers are at time not worthy of a serious read. But their contribution lies in coverting non-readers into readers. Problem arises when the novice reader thinks herein lies good reading. Contrary to your assumption, I would also like to point out that self publishing is the in-thing today and why not? Better than letting your writes rot in slush piles. Many good reads can be found in self published or less publicised books. Try them out!

    For me and I agree with you wholeheartedly richness of content be it language, expression, story, theme, underlying philosophy is uppermost. Yet I would be candid enough to confess that I like thrillers and potboilers as much.

    Your post was an interesting discourse on the subject. :)

    Geetashree

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had only a vague idea on self publishing. Now that i saw you supporting it, i feel my perspective have started changing regarding my myths. Thank you for the words Geeta ji. Being an admirer of your writings, your comment brought a big smile on my face :)

      Delete
  18. Thought provoking post. Each style and genre has its fans/readers, I guess. And my personal take is that in good writing, style and content both fuse together to create a whole. Editorial standards shape the books that are in the market, pulp sells better, so called serious writing doesn't.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True Nilanjana . . Thank you for stopping by. You are a new visitor and i am extremely happy to have you aboard :)

      Delete
  19. I completely second your view "richness of the content and the way it is conveyed"... BTW it seems like you got your quality time wasted on some unworthy book recently... for me as a reader, a boom with little less detailing works better as it gives me more feathers to fly... on a side note, your vocabulary is too vast for me to catch up at times :-P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My vocabulary ? Seriously ? :-p

      Not that i prefer books with more detailing alone, but then even in fast paced ones, i look out for quality writing . .

      Thank you so much for your time. Glad to see you here after a gap :)

      Delete
    2. Offcourse I was serious when I said Vocab :)
      You haven't seen me Gap-ing till now... only my just4Suzan knows it...I have been with her since last 6 yrs and it has been 2-3 times when I posted 3-5 posts/yr... well these are completely fb-talks but since I don't have a fb account had to tell you here to give you an idea of the long history of this gap-ing manifestation :-))

      Delete
    3. ok now that you have mentioned it, i did a background check on just4susan and yes you are right - you do Gap a lot ! :) but good to see that the 2013 is rocking as of now. write more. And that was no fb talk.Anything discussed regarding blogging is strictly 'intellectual' ;)

      Delete
  20. I like reading light books where I don't have to keep a dictionary nearby to check meaning/phrases since the author has decided to to show off his vocabulary skills using all kinda unpronounceable, unheard-of words. As long as the story is gripping and interesting, i'm okay if the author doesn't describe the sun's rays to its minutest details. many times too much descriptions can be annoying too...and you're like " ok Mr.wanna-be shakespeare lets move on shall we, you really don't want us to get stuck with the sun's rays, do you?" lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. everybody has their inclinations nandini. Let us relish in ours, whatever that be and be satisfied with that . .

      Delete
  21. so many books, so little time..
    so much to read and so much to write.. that's the problem I face everyday :P
    keeping aside all those technical views about why I like a particular author or book... I'd say it's the fun and satisfaction, everyone who reads, we drive out of it what counts...

    as far as this tussling around is concerned... it goes on my friend.. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true Jyoti! so many bookspiling up out there! and that is why i tend to be choosy these days. And yes, its goes on and i hope i stumble upon the worthy ones out there :)

      Delete
  22. I suppose this concept is so vast that we'll all have differing opinions! ;)
    There is so much to read, so many different perceptions and ways to interpret it, we all are so varied, it depends on person to person. Like for you it's good content and style over story, for me it's what the book gives me to learn, or how it made me feel. We can't just discard a story as not being good, just because we didn't like it. There's always some kind of a reality in a story too :D

    Nice post! Made me think! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many thanks for your valuable inputs Ashna. i am glad that it made you think. thank you so much for having left behind your opinion here :)

      Delete
  23. I don't specifically look for style and content, but I guess to be able to read a book with interest a book should be able to strike a good balance between the content and the style. Sometimes, the very use of words and the choice of adjectives makes the reading experience a pleasure, sometimes the beauty lies in the simplicity of the words.

    But today, there are people who write books, which are not worth even a second of our time. Sadly the genuine good writers are just a handful few among the other clumsy ones.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. very true Ashwini. Its magical how the choice of words stirr you up!

      Thank you so much for the words and for agreeing with my opinion :)

      Delete
  24. I believe in a book, the story and the style along with the language has to gel well to give that complete reading pleasure. There are so many books now-a-days which lack in so many aspects. I mean even those books which have NO story are published and the worst ones are those which have grammatical errors... the focus of a reader like me moves from the story and enjoyment to error finding mode!

    ReplyDelete
  25. OH Maliny you just penned my thoughts here, I do believe one should write when there is a story but not just for the sake of writing, I do like realistic fiction but I am more of a High-fantasy girl, and I hate cliched-pretentious book, I used read a lot... with engineering studies, It was not really difficult to pull time from sleeping schedule(As it became the habit) and it was worth it when the book was that good, now as I am trying debut authors day and day again, I am sometimes/mostly really disappointed as I might as well gotten a nice 7 hrs sleep instead of 5...
    Just hope the message gets out and we and trust books and stories again :)

    ReplyDelete
  26. It all depends on why you're reading a book. If you're looking to be entertained, you'll like a book that does just that as long as the writing isn't so bad that it intrudes on your reading experience. If you're looking to be enlightened/ made to think/ quote lines from, you're looking towards something more literary and then the language becomes the most important thing.

    A lot of books are out there on the shelves, choose the ones that speak to you, and drop the ones that don't.

    As a writer I'll always be striving to write the best book possible, which would, hopefully, entertain as well as provoke thought, but I respect writers who seek only to entertain and nothing else.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Just came across this post through Indiblogger, and mighty glad that i did :) I posted today about an author reaching out for help to pump up his ratings. that made me think about how books today are no longer the same and any author can come up and claim his stake to what we always considered to be elusive talent.. while i was ruminating on that I came across this :)

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for reading the post. Have something to say before you leave?