“One of the disadvantages of almost universal education was the fact that all kinds of people acquired familiarity with one’s favourite writers. It gave one a curious feeling; it was like seeing a drunken stranger wrapped in one’s dressing gown.” (Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons)
We always presume that the people who read the same books as us are in some way similar to us. Know your friends by the books they read. But what happens when people who make us uncomfortable – the irritating/weird neighbour, the relative’s strange socialite friend, the overbearing boss, the ‘know it all’ young person, the irritating intern – enjoy reading the same authors or have liked the same books we take pleasure in?
PS: There are only two possible conclusions to be drawn under the circumstances – either the book or the author were not as good as we thought they were or that our reading taste may be somewhat suspect.
LL: Neither one is an option that I am willing to consider. I like to believe that those people have not read the book and are merely quoting reviews off the net.
PS: The problem is that we see reading as a very personal activity and it becomes extremely difficult to imagine that someone who we don’t like or get along with, can like the same books as us.
LL: Particularly books which are like old friends who we keep revisiting. We end up becoming very possessive of them and the world they create for us.
PS: Isn’t it interesting though that when we enjoy a book, we want to discuss it with others and try to persuade our friends to read it but we are grumpy when people whom we do not like start discussing those very same books?
LL: I really think it is because we suspect their claims of having genuinely enjoyed the book and think they may be just saying so because the book is popular or has been in the news for some reason.
PS: Sometimes it also works the other way, like the young intern who was surprised that oldies like us have read Game of Thrones and thought we were just saying so because it’s so popular these days!