Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Don't judge a person by the book he/she carries!

It's fine if we judge a book by its cover but the greatest folly would be to judge a person by the book she/he carries. Many of them carry books as an adornment that enhances their intellectual value. I have seen this especially in students who will go an extra mile to carry that copy of Heisenberg or Thoreau just for kicks and if one keenly observes the book will be carried in such a way that the name of the book and its author is clearly visible. Well, if one proceeds to ask them about the book, crisp sentences straight from Wikipedia will bewilder and amuse you.


Recently while on a train journey, a young man dug out a volume of a popular author's book and tried to start reading but at the second odd page, fell asleep. After that the book was neatly kept on the food tray throughout the 20 odd hours without even being touched. The man in question, of course was later wide awake and also enjoying a film on the Laptop of a fellow passenger. Okay, I'm not judging but then a book does increase the value of the individual who carries one. Now, you have to agree that if there are two persons and one has a book and the other has a computer, if you are like me, you would naturally like to start a conversation with the one who has the book. Books are great conversation starters and I am proud to say that one such book gave me a pen-friend to whom I've been writing for ten odd years now. Now before you get ideas, he is an ordained priest in the Roman Catholic church. The book in question was Antony de Mello's The Song of the Bird. I asked him what he was reading and then read a page, borrowed the book and now I even own a copy of the same book. Looking at that feeble man in the train, I could never decipher that he was such a treasure chest of knowledge. See so much for my judgment.



Reading and books have certainly become synonymous with something elite and erudite and hence many would love to be part of the circle. Please don't imagine that I am placing people who read books and certain authors on a pedestal. I also know that many a well-read individual can be an absolutely downright rascal as well. Books and knowledge and authors offer so many brownie points to people like us that the world seems different when in the company of a beautiful book. And moving around with such beauties sure increase the worth of the one carrying it. Now you understand why some deliberately walk around with Shakespeare and Darwin.

Well, have you seen books as exterior adornments meant to be showing off YOU? What are your thoughts on this?

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet

Post Script: Now, don't ask me about people who do carry books but trashy ones such as  . . . And I think they are way better than those who do not read at all. Harsh, right?

28 comments:

  1. I do observe, it is an inherent quality I possess but then I dont judge. I just enjoy watching people and things, especially when waiting for a train or during the journey.

    I have made friends during journeys and yes, with many who also happen to be reading, we start a convo based on the book either of us were/are reading :)

    I know people who carry chicklit for travel, but otherwise read heavy duty stuff.. so we should not judge a person based on what they read...

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    1. I'm guilty as charged by me, Aarti. I tend to size up a person by the book she/he carries. Bad, I know.

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  2. from my experience, I have seen many people ,who ever carry a book when involved in a conversation about that book that they read ,Iv seen their eyes widening up ,their expressive talk about the characters in the novel (if it was a fiction) , the conversation would last for hours and hours , and we could leave the place with a content that , those long hours were really useful...Iv once noticed a person in train who read a non fiction my friend wrote and i got really inquisitive and started a conversation with him and I literally ended up with nice review of the book and few from the suggestions from the reader my friend even added up few chapter in her books next edition .

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    1. And, yes, books are great conversation starters. And thanks for sharing your delightful anecdotes. It was a pleasure to read them, Karpagam. thanks for stopping by today.

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  3. "crisp sentences straight from Wikipedia will bewilder and amuse you..."
    "deliberately walk around with Shakespeare and Darwin."

    -can't stop laughing at your presentation. Its the beauty of a person who not only reads a lot but also digests everything. All along, I was trying to imagine your facial expressions on this topic. Both serious and sarcastic :).

    I don't read books that much as I have very little patience to digest everything and you see, If I start reading without going to actual views of the author, I too might become one such Rascal ;)

    And I do love people who are well read. We can know it not just by looking at what they are carrying or what they are reading. We can make it out only by reading their minds with our words :D

    Hmmm Yes now I'm reading your post script point :D
    Well I'm thinking of carrying a Shakespeare here after ;)




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    1. Glad that you enjoyed the post, Stranger. And yes, why not. Carry a Shakespeare and rattle off quotes to amuse people. And don't forget to come back and narrate your experience.

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  4. I would love to time travel...but the current level of technology does not permit that...so the next best thing is to read books....they transport me to far away places...and if I meet a fellow traveller on the journey,., that person is most welcome...hence I chat up with people who read books...my rwo cents

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    1. Hmmm. It would be wonderful to travel along with you alongside talking about books, authors and experience.

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  5. You know, we have Thoreau in college and I neglected it then to regret it today. I have made friends during journeys but, never a reader. And, it is cool to show off these days.

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    1. Cool is everything and the same is showing off that you read heavy-duty stuff.

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  6. Indeed booka are such a great conversation. But another thing I have observed with some people is, some who enjoy reading a book aren't big fans of discussing them. Again, this could be seen as arrogance, but I think that its more an apprehension of being able to express a string of thoughts which you could have derived beautifully while reading it

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    1. For me it's the mood. If I want, I would converse otherwise no but most times I would like to talk - books or anything else. That's the advantage of having taken Lit as your major, I reckon.

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  7. Somehow I can't read big heavy books while travelling. That is the reason I used to carry a pile of comic books when travelling long distance (especially while going to Kerala by train) Yes I know a few people who carry a book for effect. This reminds me of an episode from "Yes Minister" where the finance minister always carries the yellow coloured Economic Times under his armpit. Once another minister asked him "hey how come you did not hear the news? Did you not read it in the paper?" To which he replied "Oh no I just carry it around because its part of my uniform"
    The latest book I read was Orphan of Islam by Alexander Khan.

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    1. Ah, loved the 'Yes Minister' episode. Wish I had known the same while writing the post. Thanks for coming by and bringing a smile, Joe.

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  8. Being a non-read, albeit happy person, I need to remind you Susan Deborah my friend (really, stay close!) that I discovered Anthony De Mello about 4-5 years ago--and wondering if you put me on to him? His first book I read and used: THE SONG OF THE BIRD. From then, I was hooked. Now I own seven or eight of his works.

    One of my favorite series is his "Master-and-Disciples" stories, found in books "Taking Flight" and "One Minute Wisdom"...

    But the BEST (my opinion) single page for me is in Song of the Bird, Title: WHO AM I? page 99-100. Beyond understanding how one could so easily explain this relationship between human and God? De Mello does it with fewer than 75 words. He condences 75 MILLION books into ±75 words. (I know you'll be looking at that before the week is finished!)

    Whenever I want or NEED (like now!) to straighten out my brain, De Mello is my savior, thank You, God! One of his books is always in trunk of my scooter. When on trips, these are my comfort, when day is over, people have gone home, light has evaporated, and i am alone, not lonely, just alone.

    Thank you for listening to me go on and on here. Thank you for your helpful and positive attitude these years, and for such complete understanding. Truly a friend, Susan Deborah, are you, and I am blessed by God to know you.

    Wishing in your life a PEACE beyond all understanding,
    and love.
    Steve E

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    1. De Mello rocks and I'm trying to get the entire set of his books but it's rarely available. Le me try online then.

      Love and more love to you dear Steve. I embrace the peace that you give me :)

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  9. I am intrigued and plan to get the book out of curiosity. Unfortunately I am one if those who loves to read, digest it but could not remember much of it later! :(

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    1. Why unfortunately, dear Gaia? It's definitely good.

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  10. Nice way to discover Anthony De Mello. I don't carry his books around, but did read them many years ago. I may go back now and read them again. I think I'd talk to you if I sat next to you on a train. Regardless of the book you carried, or if you were on the computer. I suspect you attract people, just being you.

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    1. Likewise Myrna. I would have started with a smile, if you were my fellow passenger and start talking and not stop until you pretend that you are too busy to be talking ;)

      Big hugs and lots of love, Myrna.

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  11. A person just told me I have to step to the blackboard and write, "condense" 100 times--AFTER school! Noy FAIR! I want to go play.....grin!

    As long as I'm here again.....do you have THE WAY TO LOVE? Its nearly 200 pages fit into a small pocket or purse. It is said to be the "last !meditations of Anthony De Mello...HIGHLY recommended by...I forget

    BUT IT IS GOOD!!!

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    1. No no. don't condense, just write. I would be glad to read and smile and nod and think of that monkey profile picture.

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  12. Susanna i have experienced the same too and felt like sharing this about me. More than the books that people carry its those who read oblivious to their surroundings are sights that grab my attention to the extent that i have an intense urge to walk straight up to them and ask," Excuse me for disturbing but would u mind sharing what u've been reading..."
    i haven't gathered enough courage to do that point blank and straight instead if i'm still there till the person gets to close the book i try my various tricks to know the book.
    Last one trick was something like this," Excuse me i have a paperback version of the same book,can i have a look at yours..."
    Turned out the young lady was knee deep into one of the competitive exam guide.
    The rest i leave it to you to picture...of my very expressive face...and what i would've said next to cover up. :)
    Okay since my supposedly loyal but very limited followers have vanished from cyberspace will u be kind to stop by at my new post?
    Something about Chennai there...and since u know Chennai too wanted to share it with you. Whenever you have the time and the inclination. :)

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    1. Some genuine people do get lost in what they are reading but there are certain others who use the book for effect. Delighted to see long comments, Shivani. Thanks for the time and patience.

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  13. Whenever I travel on the Delhi Metro, it makes me feel happy to see a lot of young girls reading books. Most of the books happen to be romantic pulp fiction but I console myself by thinking they are at least reading. Once they begin to read, they will hopefully travel farther away from pulp fiction and move towards more meaningful reading. There are also many 'elite' friends I know who, from my experience, talk about books as though they have read them but they haven't and they display the most expensive coffee table books that remain untouched and unread. It's good that they are letting India's publishing industry thrive by buying the latest and most expensive books but it's totally their loss that they haven't even opened page 1 of any of those books.

    What I want to say is this: read if you want to, or if you love to. There is simply no scope for pretentious people in the passionate world of books.

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    1. Loved your last line. Spot on.

      Thanks for coming by Swapna. Been a real long time since I saw you last. Hope you've been well.

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  14. That is a nice story, writing to the priest for a long time... where does he reside? And I carry anything I am reading at the moment in my bag, my bag always has a book or two... and yeah, it's the ones who are engrossed in a book that draw my attention too, but if the book is a sidney sheldon, I lose all interest. If its a Grisham novel, my interest piques up and then I may tentatively get into a conversation...

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    1. He has just been ordained and is in Mulki, Karnataka now. Just yesterday I received a letter from him. You are like me in matters of judging, I reckon. Two of a kind!

      Happy to see you, Karen.

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