Don’t Ask a Reader These Questions…

Suchita wrote an interesting post about questions you should not ask a bibiliophile. I found her questions so relatable that I’ve decided to borrow them for a post of my own.

It took me many years to find people who were not embarrassed about being a reader. All through childhood, I was taunted by friends for being “padhakoo,” because I was always carrying a book. I could not understand people who never read anything beyond their school textbooks. Or people who thought reading meant only studying prescribed texts.

Unfortunately, I see this sort of ignorance even today. Raising a reader is tough in such an environment. The jeering and taunting affect people so much that I have seen friends reading in private and joining in making fun of readers in public.

What’s so bad about being “padhakoo,” anyway?

I think it’s the crab mentality. Ignorant people who have the attention span of a squirrel don’t want others to read, either. They want to pull everyone else down with their jibes and ridicule.

My parents supported my hunger to read: bought me books, got me enrolled in the library, got second-hand books for me. Reading came naturally to me. My mother tells me I started reading early, in preschool. There’s a recording of me reading, too, with a baby lisp (cassette tape).

The rest of the world, however, insists on asking me inane questions that infuriate me. Before I talk about them, here’s a snapshot of my rank on Blogchatter’s Readerboard. Not bad, huh!

I’d read so much in 2020 that I felt fatigued in early 2021. So I set myself a modest target of 24 books. I’m surprised to have exceeded that target at 43 books and counting!

When people hear how many books I’ve read in a year, they ask me if I can remember anything since I’m obviously speed-reading.

This is an irritating question for two reasons:

a) they’re assuming I cannot remember what I read

b) they’re assuming I speed read.

I read books for the fun of it. Not every book has to teach me something.

I probably read faster than the average person, but I’m certainly not a speed reader!

The following questions have been borrowed from Suchita, but the responses are my own.

How do you find the time to read?

The same way you find time to binge watch movies or series. I make time.

I carry a book with me everywhere, even to the grocery shop. I read when I’m waiting for the water to boil or the sabzi to cook. I prioritize reading over other activities like folding clothes or dusting furniture. 🙂

Can you suggest a book?

Are you asking because you’re really going to read what I recommend or you just want to test my knowledge of authors and books?

Do you skip pages?

My goal is to enjoy the book, not finish it as soon as possible. Skipping pages is like skipping episodes. You don’t understand the story if you’re missing some of the action.

How can you read such a fat books?

Any book over 150 pages is “fat” for people who ask me such questions. I don’t think I need to answer people who count the number of pages they read per day and tick it off a task list.

By the way, fat books that can hold the reader’s interest have been written by supremely talented authors.

What are you reading?

Are you really interested? You can start a conversation by directly asking me what you want. I don’t mind.

Tell me how I can start reading more too.

If you need extrinsic motivation to read, perhaps you haven’t found the right book or you simply don’t have it in you to read. Don’t force it.

But if you’re serious about it, my only advice would be to set aside some time each day to read. Be consistent and reading will soon become a habit.

Why are you carrying a book?

Because TikTok/WhatsApp/Netflix cannot compare to the magical world of books.

How can you read in the noise?

I read to escape the noise. I don’t want to be a part of gossip and chit chat. I have no interest in what other people are doing with their lives, unless it’s discussing books and movie adaptations.

If you’ve never had a movie reel playing in your head when you’re reading a story, you’re missing out on one of the most amazing experiences.

Are you still reading?

Yes. And I’ll keep reading until I’m forced to put the book down.

Don’t you get bored of sitting in one place and reading all the time?

When I read, I lose track of time and place. I feel like I’ve been transported to the setting of the book. Like I’m a bystander, watching the story unfold in front of me.

You wouldn’t understand. Go back to your mindless serials where MILs and DILs are forever bickering over petty things. Or men are giving the “bahu” of the family plenty of unsolicited advice.

As you can probably tell, I have a lot of anger against non-readers. Ironically, I am married to one. We make it work by not interfering in each other’s interests.

I’m trying to raise my son as a reader and I find the same taunts, jibes, and comments that I’d faced thirty years ago. In India, the focus is on schoolwork. Reading for pleasure seems to be an alien concept.

We force our kids to memorize notes and beat the sensitivity out of them. Budding readers are mercilessly squashed, lest they get too dreamy. It’s a sad state of affairs.

The bookish community on social media is filled with lovely people.

But even there I find deep-seated prejudices. The joy of reading is diluted in the competition between people to edit the best book photos, record the best book videos, complete the most book challenges and book bingos, gain the most followers, or get as many ARCs as possible.

Book Twitter drama is especially vicious with authors and book bloggers regularly clashing over problematic content or bad reviews.

Whatever happened to wanting to read a book and discussing what you thought of the story?

(This post is part of Blogchatter Half Marathon Aug ’21.)

13 responses to “Don’t Ask a Reader These Questions…”

  1. Thank you for reading, Tarang! I’m happy you could relate to it. I’ve poured my heart out into this post. He! He!

  2. Wonderful post, and it’s so relatable. I like to read at my own pace. I just follow two reading challenges: goodreads and recent Blogchatter reading challenge. Goodreads reading challenge is just to keep track of my reading. I like updating.

    About skipping pages: I do that if I’m not enjoying the book. Most of the time, I end up leaving it unfinished.

    1. Thank you for reading, Tarang! I’m happy you could relate to it. I’ve poured my heart out into this post. He! He!

  3. I’m glad you found it relatable!

  4. Totally relate to each and every word of it. My daughter is a voracious reader and she reads importantly for fun. books are her constant companion but when people label and tease her as padhakoo, it angers me and I really don’t understand what’s wrong with being a reader. Bookmarked your post to show to my daughter. Thank you for the post.

    1. I’m glad you found it relatable!

  5. Gosh!!! The anger was dripping from each word and I can truly understand it. I’m not a voracious reader but a moderate one and I think that’s better than no reading at all. But I’m trying to get to reading more. Infact, when I read about people like you, I’m envious because that’s the place I want to get to ultimately. So, no, padhakoo is not bad at all.

  6. “The joy of reading is diluted in the competition between people to edit the best book photos, record the best book videos, complete the most book challenges and book bingos, gain the most followers, or get as many ARCs as possible.”
    So bang on…I sometimes look at the pictures/reels and now TikTok of books, and I am like…ok let me read first then I will learn all this 🙂

    For me, Reading has and always will be for pleasure, glad to have found like-minded you , thanx to SM!

  7. […] THAT MAKE ME DNF A BOOK @pages unboundThe Origins of Iris by Beth Lewis @JO’S BOOK BLOGDon’t Ask a Reader These Questions… @ SATABDI […]

  8. I feel it should be the other way round, and people should feel embarassed about not reading!

  9. Lovely post.
    After reading your post I also feel that I need to read more.
    I love reading but somehow due to my profession I wasn’t able to continue with it for long.
    I also believe that readers have better focus, concentration and mind power than non-readers.
    Continue to follow your passion.
    You have a great future ahead.

  10. I like to read all the time and yes I read during cooking too.Unfornutely that lead to many slight burned dishes .But that’s okay .Interesting post Satabdi.My daughter is a voracious reader and so am I .Jibes I can’t hear when I read

  11. This is wonderful! Thank you for taking my questions and making your answers 🙂 I was lucky – had a reader mother and an indulgent father so did not have to face any questions on why I was reading. Though I remember any time someone would ask teen me what my talents were, I couldn’t say reading because it’s not “showy” and cannot be flaunted in front of peers.

  12. This was great. I agree with you these questions are annoying.

  13. Lovely Blog Satabdi.
    I feel the same way too:
    “When I read, I lose track of time and place. I feel like I’ve been transported to the setting of the book…”

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