Genres, Categories and Catalogues

How many times have we chosen books solely based on the genre? Are the readers, the voracious ones, depending only on certain kinds of books? Or, they, the very sparsely read population, just pick books based on the best seller lists?

Some like only fiction; while some thrive on non-fiction. Then there are chose charitable types who adhere to no known category and pick books based on how thought provoking a book cover is. While there cannot be ‘one-size-fits-all’ phenomena when it comes to picking a brilliant read, I still have reservations when it comes to self help. Now, don’t get me wrong. I agree that they do have wisdom. They do help people it’s just that they don’t help me. And my ire is greater towards those, those uppity folks who turn their noses to pulp, who read ONLY self help! I’m sorry, but preachy ones are not what I would patronise.

Coming back to the classifications of books, they confuse me. I still haven’t mastered the art of cataloguing a particular book after reading it. Of course, there are those obvious ones like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings and The Sword of Shannara which can easily be wrapped under ‘Fantasy’. Then we have other obvious choices in ‘Classic Literature’ where Dickens and Faulkner and Brontë go. But when it comes to sub-classifying them it gets difficult. Now, usually it happens under the ubiquitous head of ‘Fiction’. James Patterson writes fiction, ok I get it. But beyond that does it go in ‘Crime’ or ‘Thriller’? ‘Murder Mystery’ or ‘Psychological’?

I know there is a science in the entire madness and there is a reason, but, judging a priori I see no reason why a book has to be sub-classified! Perhaps, I talk stupid because I know how easy it becomes to track an author if the classification is perfectly done. But are these classifications of any use outside a public library? Does the classification of the library become how you choose your ‘to-do list’? Isn’t word of mouth and dependable reviews more worthy of being the reason for books segueing from ‘to-do’ to ‘been there, done that’? Reading books from best seller lists is exactly like listening to music from the top 50s! You’re missing out on so much, I say.

If one was to ask me the proper route to taking enlightenment I’d say that one has to read slow. I mean start with light hearted comedy if you like humour. A Wodehouse is the way instead of the comedy of Shakespeare. Start with a Harry Potter if you’re the fantasy freak. It just won’t do if you hurl yourself in LOTR. There is a time for every book. You cannot possibly love Wuthering Heights if you’re not capable of accepting classic romantic literature. No matter how wonderful the book, if you’ve not acclimated to the symphony of the language you cannot understand the tremors of a classic!

You just cannot. And if you claim to understand it, you’re lying to yourself. The intricate details, the nuances, the flourish of the verbose narrator, the whoops of the tangible exhilaration are all lost on you. What you understand, probably, is the story and not the book.

There is a distinct hierarchy involved while you go from one genre to another; a method to the madness; a protocol to be followed.

So, I ask again (mostly to myself) if genre wise reading and sticking to a single type of writing will help you towards an all round development as a reader?

And I answer (definitely to myself) that it will not!



3 thoughts on “Genres, Categories and Catalogues

Add yours

    1. Thank you!!!

      Reading the same kind of book is like treating yourself to sweets all the time, all through the year, without a break.
      Your tooth will fall out eventually.


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