Join the Have Nots

I see them on busstops, under trees on campus, at info-desks, on street-corner cafes. From Seattle to Singapore, people between six and sixty are doing 'it' at all times of the day. 'It' has achieved the impossible. People have even given up TV for 'it'! That's something.

'It' is a recent 700+page book which has managed to numb millions to any sort of sensation; many have taken a temporary leave of absence from their responsibilities as children, graduate students, parents, babysitters and citizens. While they are under the grip of a fantastic spell, I am gripped by self-doubt. A lot of self-doubt. For a person who fancies himself as reading omnivore I wonder - 'Have I managed to miss out on the greatest book cult of my generation?' For all her billions, J.K. Rowling has nothing to thank me for; I haven't read any of the books or seen any of the movies.

If you put half a dozen people together, somehow, somebody manages to steer the conversation to the sixth and last book. I try to hide behind the nearest flower-pot to avoid embarassment. "Man, you are STILL reading Faulkner? That's not even 60s dude, that's 40s."

Millions of people queuing up for the book at midnight like crack-addicts waiting for their next fix can't be wrong, can they? Am I simply a literary snob? or just out of touch with popular culture? What is a great book? One that seeks out universal truths? or one that has universal appeal?>

While Harry Potter could be the answer to world peace, the world is clearly divided into the haves and the have-nots. I clearly belong to the mass of people who have not read the hexology (Aside: I was disappointed it wasn't called a sexology!) The time is nigh to start a support group for the have-nots. Want to join? Don't be ashamed. Whether you are a self-doubter, a pop-culture hater, or just an unrepentant snob - help is at hand.


Paddy said...

yay! am glad not to be only one..I have never read a single book of the series and go "tr" when people ask him about something regarding 3rd book 5th chapter as to what happens.

Ashutosh said...

Hilarious! And count me in...I am even willing to join a protest march. Such madness! Maybe THIS is when everything ends, when like Nero, everybody reads Potter whilst the world burns.

Ajay said...

If you'd read one and then stopped because you didn't like it, maybe I'd listen to your opinion. But not reading a single one...snob! :)

I do know I didn't read The Da Vinci Code for over a year and a half just to be a contrarian. And yes, reading it was a perfect waste of 3-4 hours of reading time. The average Robert Ludlum or Jeffrey Archer is more engaging :-)

For the record, I've enjoyed reading the HP series. Not enough to buy any of them though.

Hirak said...

I am glad to know that I am not the only one out there!

There is a part of me that is a snob and then there is the part that refuses to follow the crowd. After the dust settles, I might take up HP (with ironically coincidental initials).

As a kid, I devoured every Enid Blyton book that I could lay my hands on. And going from accounts and personal observation, HP seems like a HUGE time sink.

On the issue of high-lit and popular lit. I was recommended Umberto Eco instead of Dan Brown and I have to say it was a extremely good choice.

That being said, Faulker's Sound and Fury was an emotionally and mentally draining experience. More on that soon.

Luis said...

I saw the first movie, read the first Harry Potter book, and stopped there. I'd probably continue with the series if I were 20 years younger.

I don't think it's about following the crowd or being a snob. The simple fact is that these are children's books. I acknowledge that I would have loved the Harry Potter series as an elementary schooler. It has all the key elements I always enjoyed in my most beloved fantasy stories: magic, child hero, "geeky" kids embarrassing the "cool" kids, escaping the parents to live among childhood friends, and having amazing adventures.

As an adult, the HP series just doesn't appeal to me. Frankly, I'm worried about why this book is so popular with adults. Is it as innocent as adults wanting to relive their youth or is it because adults of our generation lack the literary competence to enjoy novels written to our level?

Sid Rege said...

Not to be too much of a stickler, old boy, but I believe it is actually a 7 book series and is therefore a heptology. Ofcourse, that means that I am 7 books away from reading the whole thing!!

Hirak said...

Forsooth! seven is the magic number. That proves my utter ignorance on the series.

Paddy said...

On a different note, may I suggest something for your reading palate which can better than HP:
Love & Death in a Hot COuntry by Naipaul.Its a classic gem for some reason not as popular as some of his other works...

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