Reading is a thankless activity!

by Ahalya on October 22, 2009

So you can tell that I am hurting from my latest read, a book of short stories. It is called The Best of Best Short Stories: 1985-1995, edited by Giles Gordon and David Hughes.  This is the first time in my reading experience that I have loved each of the stories in a compilation. There are stories by Margaret Atwood, Shena Mackay, Janette Turner Hospital, Edna O’Brien, Frederic Raphael, some names are known, some are pleasantly friendly discoveries. They are all extraordinary stories! After each page I wanted to… write! That spark  is rarely ignited, and when it is I am like a raging river, or so I like to think.

Anyway, so the problem is that the book is over. I read the stories in any random order and now I find that I have read them all.

And I am very upset, I feel lonely. How could the book leave me now?  All those afternoons we spent together over lunch. I need to hunt down the next ‘Best…’ of course, but that isn’t proving too easy. The void this book has left is huge, and it will take a lot of books to soothe me now. I need something well-written that will teach, inspire, humour me. I am a demanding reader.

Which brings me to the fact that reading is rarely appreciated. All those pages, all those hours you should have been working, and what do you have to show? No National Reader Awards! No free library (updated every day!) at the end of the rainbow? At the most you get a nod of understanding from the fellow reader across the book, maybe a bookseller who gives you a good price, a friend who gives you a book you wanted, a sudden find in a bookstore, something you have been looking for for a long time, and you think the book angels are giving you an early gift.

But other than all this? Nothing. Do your favourite authors drop by for tea and smile conspirationally with you, give you a tip or two on thinking up a good plot? Alas, no. We readers are a neglected lot.  Where are the free books, the free gadgets, the ‘just ask and you shall have’ dinner dates with the galaxy of super authors?

So, I am just going to thank you. For reading. For reading this blog post, books, the newspaper, everything, anything. You, my dear reader, are a good reader.

So my question, how would you like to be thanked? Really thanked?

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

kunal October 22, 2009 at 11:16 pm

that most dont write like dan brown is thanking me a loooot. believe me 🙂 it makes me haaaaaaaaaaaaapy :)))


kunal October 22, 2009 at 11:21 pm

i am better than a good reader :O trumpets pls :O:O:O thanku 🙂
having said that. i have become only a goodish reader of late. as i sing too much nowadays to read as much 🙂


Aditya October 30, 2009 at 10:47 pm

“Anyway, so the problem is that the book is over. ”
lol, yes.


Stanley Stephen March 5, 2010 at 2:56 pm

I think you are talking about establishing a mutualistic symbiotic relationship (yes, I had to look that up on Wikipedia) between readers, merchants and writers.

Good writers get better at their art if they know that their babies are being raised well in the hearts of good readers. The better the reader, the more important it becomes for the writer to do better. The result is a mutually nourishing system.

Writers must write. They have no choice. If they got pregnant with an idea, the baby must be born or they must die together. The question is what happens to the child? Will it be an orphan or will it grow up to become another star to brighten up the night sky?

The outcome is entirely in your hands. A good reader is the only one who can parent a book. A good reader is the reason why a writer writes. The good reader is why a writer goes through hundreds of drafts, spends sleepless nights trying to smoothen out the unnecessary wrinkles in a plot and labors through the urge to give up…

A good reader, therefore is the fertile land of civilization. Books are only harvests. They come and go. The land alone remains. Fertile.



Pritya March 12, 2010 at 9:03 am

This post really made us smile…we know what this means! How many letters we have sent to authors in our younger days, like many of our other friends, and most of the time waited for days, and just waited!
So today since we see our book on your blog, we are one of your authors, and your wish is our command 🙂 . Dinner when you come to Chennai with our green book as a first meeting gift – does that sound good!
Jigyasa & Pratibha


Pratibha March 17, 2010 at 7:09 pm

The first author who wrote back to me was Tarlaji when I was in my twenties…I felt like a kid. For days, I slept holding her envelope!
The link I have added has a post I did about letters to Tarlaji…such warm memories :).


Sonia May 27, 2010 at 3:25 pm

A word, a verse, a story, a book – any of these would make me feel really really thanked! Like they would you I am guessing. Why don’t you do a give away “The Best of Best Short Stories: 1985-1995” contest? More inspired short stories? That’s the optimist in me! Reading your post, I think I would love to read that book too. Haven’t read a good collection of short stories in a long long time. For you, you do not have to look too far. Mumbai is close enough to Pune. Come and take a reading vacation. Spend time at “The Book Leaf”! As you turn a leaf here and there, you may find a gem rare…


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