Sunday, October 21, 2012

Don't judge a book by its cover

I normally don't judge a book by its cover.... and i am talking about taking the statement literally in this case.... I have heard the statement enough times to know it is not something "not-vain" people do... i do judge it by its blurb or reputation... i mean come on how else would you know which ones to buy and later spend your precious time on.... and if something can't impress you with the 100 word blurb what are the possibilities of it impressing you with the million words??

BUT what happened yesterday is completely out of sync with the above statement...

I have had a lot of free time on my hands of late.... by free time i mean i have to be in office but don't have much work... and i had to work yesterday and today (Saturday and Sunday) as well - not really work but be in office at stand by in case something goes wrong - so last night i decided to buy a book to read in office today.... after a comparatively dry run of not so good books i had read 2 nice ones recently... 1. 'Round Ireland with a fridge' by Tony Hawks 2. City of Djinns by William Dalrymple, i didn't want to break the good streak so i was looking for another good book.... after reading city of Djinns i had read a lot of what William Dalrymple has written... a lot of which is about India and a lot of which is about spirituality.... it was a good read but then again ... i don't know.... there's only that much i can read about spirituality... reading all that and then not having enough work in office and probably a few other factors i was getting bored... which eventually made me grumpy.... i kind of knew i had to read a happy book.... if only i had read the fridge book second or better still hadnt read it yet!

one thing led to another to another and there i was reading about Nick Hornby and a few articles he had written... i recalled a book of his that i had read a long time ago - High Fidelity - i had picked that book on instinct... i was in a book shop in Geneva - difficult to find many English books there - desperate for a good book (funny how often i am desperate for a good book!) not finding anything laid my hands on this, read a few paragraphs at random... decided it must be a good buy and did not regret my decision the entire time i read the book... so Nick Hornby and Fever Pitch seemed like a decent buy....

Didn't order it online...because i needed it immediately - for today and also because i love visiting book shops...

There aren't any bookshops that i particularly adore amongst the ones that i visit here... as in the bookstores here in this part of the city are all the 'chain bookstores' the crosswords and the likes of the world... the problem according to me with these are many.... the most important being the stores having no character at all (some people might love the uniformity for me it just kills something essential!) and also the ignorance of the staff ... funnily i don't blame the staff.... the culture here is not one where students work part time as staff in these stores but more of people taking this job for lack of anything better a low paying job(my guess) which means most of the people don't know books or authors... leaving aside a very few famous ones for everything else they wouldn't know the author you are talking about leave aside any particular book... which means if you have the complete name including all the 'Thes' and 'As' at the right places they would know if the book is in stock... that's because the computer tells them ... but if you think of having a conversation like... "i read XYZ and liked it,... was wondering if you can recommend anything you think i might like or is on the similar lines" .... You are just being stupid (i remember having a conversation like this back home with a bookshop owner - one of the bookshops which has character- and coming out with a great book that i loved!) - does it remind you of " you've got mail " - i only realized now that either this movie had a bigger impact than i knew or this must be the reason for me to like that movie- anyway coming back to the point.. i like going to bookshops... even the ones which are more stores than shops.... there's something about shelves and shelves of books lined along the wall that makes me happy and I want to own it all (please ignore the Angry birds merchandise and the Hannah Montana posters... and the likes - just turn a blind eye!!)- so there i was in a bookstore... ready to buy Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby but not without first browsing through other books.... browsed through many didn't find the one i was looking for.... went to one of the employees... asked him if he has it... spelled the author name multiple times and got the answer i was hoping to get- YESS they had it in stock :-)

Frankly i wasn't all happy , a small part of me had wanted him to say no they didn't have it in stock so that it could explain my inability at not finding it... but the small disappointment apart i was happy... he led me to the book... it was in the classics sections!!!

Is it a classic???? The guy's still alive and younger than my parents... and his book is a classic??? I mean i don't know if being dead is a prerequisite for your book being a classic but i always assumed a classic was more or less something that was timeless.... when would the book have been published? 80s? 90s? isnt 20-30 years too small a time to term anything timeless (that's my way of telling myself it wasn't my mistake that i didn't think to look in the classics section - but still!)- Wiki tells me it was published in 1992 - so just 20 years and it's a penguin classic! Probably a modern classic just so that penguin doesn't feel its cheating its customers... but still - a book younger than me is no classic - i completely disagree!!!

Although, on the bright side the book was there YAYYYY - i could forgive them their poor categorization - i am benevolent you see - i was happy.... happy for a not so boring working with no work Sunday ahead! i could spend it doing something i like - like reading a good happy book.... i knew it was going to be a happy book - a funny one probably - i have read a few things the author wrote... i just knew it... his books cheer you up on a bad day.....

Imagine my disbelief then, when the book came out of the shelf and it had that typical orange and white classic cover! i am sure you can picture the cover i am talking about! I mean Charles Dickens having that cover is one thing... but fever pitch having it!!! It's unfathomable!! So not in line with the book... i mean come on!!! Words fail me!!!

so the dialogue i have with myself:

"oh it's not the fever pitch i was looking for"

On reading the author's name "2 guys same name same book titles slightly improbable"

On reading a few paragraphs " well it is the book I was looking for - sigh!"

Trying to convince myself "it's the content that matters not the cover! I have to read the book not paint the cover"

On closing the book and glimpsing at the cover "really this cover for this content?"

Does it look like a happy cover to you????

When you are looking for a happy book would you rather pick up this

 or this?

and i haven't even put the 'most happening' non classic cover !
Picked up the book anyway.... i mean come on... i don't judge a book by its cover..... browsed a few more books... just in case i like something else better (although a part of me already knew that's not going to happen!) i kept browsing.... and some more.... ok last 5 minutes... nothing that i liked.... i had to buy the book with this cover.... or probably not... went back to the section and put it with its other classic friends!!

Came out without buying anything... Navjot asked me... didn't you buy it?

Me: i couldn't find it...

N: but a few minutes ago you told me you found it only it had the wrong cover?

Me (slightly irritated): oh come on... are you crazy... how can something have a "wrong cover" that statement doesn't even make sense..

N: no i am sure you said you didn't like the cover although you were positive you would like the book

me(irritated): i said nothing of the sort... i must have said something like i found another book which i am not sure i would like.... do you think i am so shallow that i would judge a book by its cover?! ( And under my breath - unless it has the wrong cover!!)

One ought to keep up appearances!


Gaurav Jagya said...

Reminds me of one of my English Teachers back in school. He was the funniest most serious man with dead serious face, just like the orange Penguin book. Unlike books, with a teacher we have no choice but to attend his classes even though we think he would kill us out of boredom. We definitely judged him with his cover (sad face) and hated the fact that we will have to hear him out for three straight years. But as it turned out, we used to wait eagerly for the moment he enters our class and we get our 35 mins of non stop laughing dose. As a matter of fact , in first one month of his class i must have laughed equal to I did in entire 8 years i spent in school till that point of time.
So I would say the title applies not just to the books :)

Navneet Kaur said...

Yeah.... but noo... I still can't buy it :-P

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