Friday, August 18, 2017

#585 : #FridayReflections - Of Reading Books and Elitist Behavior

Beautiful photographs with books as subject seems to be the fad these days. Instagram particularly, is abuzz with 'book lovers' uploading 'styled' photographs of books. These photos typically center books with pretty covers processed along with rich looking fabrics or props or even merchandise like candles, key chains and Funko Pop. Long gone are the time when the adage - Never judge the book by its cover made sense. These days, the prettier the cover, the more the book sells or so its fast becoming. Then there are these PR events in the name of book launches which specifically happen in one part of the country as that part is known to have a hip crowd, which can potentially make the event go viral with live videos, funky selfies and what not.

As a matter of fact, it has become fashionable to carry around and read books. It has also become fashionable to put up a picture or status about the same. Eventually, that thread will contain a lot of comments which gush at books or probably some full blown argument will happen criticizing/favoring the book.

The direction at which the whole business of books and literature is heading, seems dangerously  elitist. Even the publishing houses prefect that very segment of people who are online and can increase their visibility. At the end of the day, it's just another business where everyone wants to mint money.

Fair enough, but what of the experience of reading a good book? All this feels like gas inside a helium balloon. The balloon which stays afloat as long as the gas is still in there. It is err to stereotype that the beautiful cover, the promotions and the pictures are for books which aren't that good, however, the point is that, not all people can be a part of this group. This is where the elitist behavior creeps in. If one hasn't purchased or read a certain famous book or even a classic for that matter, they are looked upon with a tinge of mockery. It's hard to differentiate between the pretenders and genuine bibliophile these days. Some people read for the sake of it while others, read to click pictures and boast about it.

The purpose of reading or writing or any other form of art of that matter, is to satiate the soul. That was how it was looked upon earlier. Unfortunate people who don't belong to this borderline elitist group often wilt under the pressure and try hard to belong, thereby losing the very purpose of reading a book. Reading is not like eating, one cannot possibly acquire a certain taste over night. It takes time to read certain genres of books. It is okay to not have read a certain popular book. It is okay to read books which drives you into a different world. A world, one truly likes.

Note : This write was inspired by an article I read and a discussion that happened on Facebook. I've chosen to be superficial for the sake of leading a peaceful life.


  1. To each his own.

    One might want to read books that belong to the elitist block while others want to be seen with the latest 'bestseller'. Who cares? You read, or you don't. You can be a wannabe, you can choose to say 'I can't read a book without a picture'.

    I will be buried under my covers with my books, rather than discussing (read as fighting over) books.

    Gayathri @ Musings Over Nothing

  2. Nice post Janani. I think there are always two types of people. People who show off and people who don't. I think, we can't avoid that in any field. Be it writing, reading, office, media, etc.

  3. Precisely the point. But to be criticized for choices we make won't just won't.

  4. This is so true about everything- books, movies, Netflix. If someone is not doing the in thing, they are looked down upon as outdated. I usually don't like reading the "Ayn Rand" and many such famous heavy metal stuff. I tried but a few pages and I lost interest, I am happy with Sophie Kinsella and I read that unabashedly as it makes me happy, I would rather do things that make me happy

  5. Nice post Shree! Something different

  6. […] Of Reading Books and Elitist Behavior by Shree Janani This post talks about elitism and hypocrisy in the books business. What really […]