What happens to all the fat books?

It's ironical that as books get more accessible with technology, it’s getting more and more difficult to read.

 |  3-minute read |   21-01-2015
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So the upcoming Kolkata Literary Meet has put me in a pensive sort of mood. Amitav Ghosh is apparently going to be talking about his newest book, the final book of The Ibis Trilogy, Flood Of Fire. While that should ideally fill me with excitement of the I-can’t-wait-I-have-to-read-it-now kind, it just serves to remind me of the thick hardbound edition of River of Smoke that is still lying on the living room centre table, only half-read.

For a long time, I was the kind of bookworm who judged a person if they said they couldn’t finish a book because it was too fat (too boring? oh well, we’ve all done that!). But now in this world of fast changing technology, where there’s one book on the phone (because you’re too embarrassed to be reading it even on the Kindle – where else would you read 50 Shades of Grey?), one book on the laptop/computer, to be read on long journeys or lazy days, or when you need to pretend to be working, one book (the real kind that you can feel and touch) in your bag for the airport and journeys because your phone/Kindle might go out of charge or the flight may not let you read on your phone/tab on offline mode, one or two or three that have been thrust at you for a review until you are floundering, putting the murder mystery in the historical and the psychological thriller in the fantasy fiction.

Reading used to be easier before. I remember lugging around The Suitable Boy for three weeks wherever I’d go – to school, to tuitions, to relatives places even the school sports day and coming out of it with a very real daze – where one is half in the book and half outside and you’re still not ready to come out of that world. But as books get more accessible with technology, I think it’s getting more and more difficult to read. Ironic, isn’t it?

I managed to drag River of Smoke to work for three days, before deciding to leave it at home after almost losing it on an assignment (a book reading for another book!) and almost forgetting it at office. I could download it again on my phone but what sense does it make to download a copy of a book that you’ve already bought. There’s another scary thought that put me off from doing so. Can you imagine how long the 528 page long River of Smoke will be on the phone? To give you an idea A Clash of Kings is a whopping 3,118 pages on my phone. The only way one would finish it is when faced with faced with the prospect of not having anything to do with Game Of Thrones world for months – now that April 2015, (the release date for the next season) is so much closer I have already abandoned A Dance With Dragons.

Meanwhile, the list of half read books keep growing. The Blind Assassin, which a former roommate trawled two bookshops in Mumbai for, to gift it on my birthday. The River of Smoke which I fought the husband and parents to read first (I lost). Let’s not even get started on the A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones series. All of these books, I really hope they aren’t sensitive, are really kind of fat.

Is it only me? Or is it so with other readers as well? I hope it is the former, for otherwise it would be the worst kind of size discrimination.


Malini Banerjee Malini Banerjee @startingtoblue

The writer is a special correspondent with India Today, Kolkata.

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