I like to spend my weekends reading. For me, weekends are meant for doing the things that we love but don’t get much time to do during the weekdays. There are few things I love as much as reading books. If there was a job that required me to read whatever book I wanted to and paid me enough to sustain myself, I would kill for that job.
On Fridays, when all the people around me chalk up plans to go out, I daydream about the book I’m going to pick up. Most people think this is odd. This post is about their reactions. If you are a fellow book lover, you will most likely relate to this.
Before I go on about the conversations I have every other Friday regarding my weekend plans, let me define a few things to make it simpler.
My conversations will involve two people, X and Y, such that:
X – A person who is not fond of reading or hates it. This person cannot understand how some people don’t seem to find it boring to read books.
Y – A person who reads books. This person can fit anywhere in the range of reading interest, from being a light reader who enjoys occasionally reading certain kinds of books to a voracious reader who devours all genres of books and whose sole purpose in life is to read.
I will be using the phrase ‘Mind Voice’ to mean my thought at the given moment. Mind voice (henceforth typed as MV) is a slang used in Tamil in a similar manner, made popular by Tamil films.
Let’s move on to the scenarios now.
Scenario 1: X, who doesn’t know me well, asks me about my weekend plans.
X: What are you doing this weekend?
MV: Do I tell the truth? I hardly know this person. X may label me a nerd. Shall I lie and avoid a long conversation? Maybe X will have the usual reaction, maybe X won’t. It is possible X is a fellow book lover. Let me just say the truth. That will give me a chance to find out more about X.
Me: I’ll be reading books. What are you doing?
X: You know, I’ll just be <hanging out with friends / hitting the mall / watching the latest flick / shopping / basically anything other than reading>
Me: Sounds good. Have fun
X: So where are you going out?
Me: I don’t have plans to go out, I’m going to stay home and read.
X: Oh, your friends are busy this weekend? If you like, you can hang out with A, B, C and me on Sunday. We are going to <insert random activity here>.
MV: How sweet of X to invite me along. Now, how do I navigate this awkward situation?
Me: Thank you, but I’m staying home to finish reading a book. The one I’m currently reading is very interesting and a bit long. I don’t know if I can complete it during the weekend. I won’t have time to go out.
X: You mean you actually like reading?
MV: Not again! Why do people ask that? It’s not really that unusual.
Me: I do. In fact, I can’t wait to go home and get back to this book.
X: I cannot imagine how some people like reading so much. Books are so boring. Every time I open a book I feel like sleeping. I would pick a book at night if I can’t sleep and the next minute I’d doze off. They are like sleeping pills.
MV: If only I had a penny every time I heard this…
Me: I guess it depends on the book you picked. Maybe if you found a genre you like, you wouldn’t be bored.
X: I don’t know, I really don’t want to try. Anyway, have you ever slept while reading?
Me: Never. Many times, I have actually stayed up all night and desperately put off sleep to read a few more pages.
X: Really? That’s weird. How do you like reading?
MV: Ah, how on earth do I describe the feeling I get when reading a book I like? Let me borrow the lines of famous quotes.
Me: Reading a book I like is the best feeling ever, nothing compares to it. It’s like…
X (cutting me off in mid-sentence): It’s not like I’ve never read any book. I have read a book or two and I think books are “okay”, but I don’t get why some people read so much.
MV: Yikes, that was not a question. It was a comment! To think I started explaining why reading is great… and I didn’t even get to quote some good lines. I should just let this one slide.
Me: Well, different people have different interests.
X: Hmmm. So you read during all weekends?
Me: Mostly, yes.
X: How can you read every weekend?
MV: Just the same way you can roam around every weekend! Well, there is no point in arguing. I’ll just be wasting my time. Let me just smile and shrug.
X: You don’t go out at all?
MV: Should I explain that books are so much better than going out? Tell X that when you read fantasy and sci-fi, you won’t feel like going out, because you get to visit cool places in your imagination that do not and may never exist? Explain that crime and thrillers are so much better in books than in films? I’d rather not go over that “The book is always better than the movie” thing. Should I tell X that I feel going to the mall is a waste of my time? That reading non-fiction instead would inspire me? That reading a technical book in the weekend is the best thing for my career and X should try that too? I probably shouldn’t. I need to be polite.
Me: I don’t like going out much.
X: Maybe you’re just lazy to go out? Getting dressed up, travelling, maybe you don’t want to take the effort to go out.
Me: No, I just really like reading. I enjoy it much more than going out. Also, the weekend is the time when I check Coursera, edX, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
X: Oh, Ok then.
MV: Phew, I should have just said something like I’m going out with friends and avoided all this. Well, at least I know I can’t talk to X about books.
Scenario 2: After our first conversation, X finds me boring and thinks I don’t have a life.
X: So what are you doing this weekend? Reading again?
X: I have no idea why you do that.
MV: Oh good. X sighed and ended it. No pointless debate needed. Poor thing doesn’t believe in reading…
Scenario 3: After our first conversation, X is intrigued by books.
X: What are you doing this weekend?
Me: Reading books, as usual.
X: What book are you reading?
Me: <Insert title>
X: What’s it about?
Me: <Insert summary>
X: That sounds interesting.
Me: It is!
MV: Even though X doesn’t like reading, X asks me about my interest. X is such a cool person.
Scenario 4: Y, who doesn’t know me well, asks me my weekend plans.
Y: What are you doing this weekend?
MV: Do I tell the truth? I hardly know this person. Y may label me a nerd. Shall I lie and avoid a long conversation? Maybe Y will have the usual reaction, maybe Y won’t. It is possible Y is a fellow book lover. Let me just say the truth.
Me: I’ll be reading books. What about you?
Y: Same! / something-other-than-reading. What book are you currently reading?
Me: <Insert title>
Y: Oh, I haven’t read it, but I heard it’s good. Let me know your thoughts once you complete it. / I read that book a couple days back. Interesting read. Let’s discuss once you finish it.
MV: Yay! Y reads! I can discuss books with Y. I should finish this book ASAP.
Me: Cool. Have you read <Insert another book title>?
Y: Yes, *Y reviews the book*. What did you think about it?
Me: *I review the book*
And this conversation goes on forever. Y becomes a close friend because of our common reading interest.
Unfortunately, I don’t meet a lot of Ys in real life. With many of the Xs I know, it is the second scenario. They think that staying home to read makes me drab. They misunderstand that I’m lonely and sad when I really just love being alone with my books.
When I’m with a book, I can never be lonely. I’m not alone because I’m surrounded by wonderful characters that inspire me or relate to me. At times, I prefer fictional characters to some humans. I’m most certainly not sad. Reading is the most joyous experience for me.
I don’t go around snubbing people, whose idea of a good time is going out to a mall, movie, shopping, or just hanging out with friends and roaming aimlessly in busy streets. I personally think that these are a waste of time, but I’m respectful of other people’s interests and I don’t say a word about it. I understand that different people have different definitions of fun.
Same way, I don’t want people to judge me and people like me who prefer to stay home alone with our books. Wouldn’t the world be nicer if we all respected the likes and dislikes of others, irrespective of whether we share those interests or not?