‘Reading books’ may not be a sign of ‘better character’ at all times
In life, there are many who have abused me, cheated me, depressed me and ill-treated me.
Almost half of them have one thing in common. A habit which I loved and still love. They are serious book readers. They read lots and lots of books on various topics and could talk about books at length for hours, without losing any enthusiasm.
Before the age of 27, before the time I made this connection, I also felt that just because someone reads books, their heart will be pure and mind will be adventurous. It was only few months ago that I found the common line that went through their hearts that was producing some of the nasty behaviors I had to face and tolerate, even while their hands held the latest literary books.
The person who mocked me at college for my dark skin colour and for kissing a girl of ‘fair skin’ is a serious book reader.
The person who used my ideas for their social start-up and didn’t credit me is a serious book reader.
The person who used my money and didn’t return it is a serious book reader.
The person who constantly mocks my balding hairline is a serious book reader.
The person who supervises me at work and ensures that my office timings are spent as depressingly as possible is a serious book reader.
The person who sits with me at work and constantly tells me that my poor appearance gives her a fright is a serious book reader. (She is the reason this connection became obvious. So her habit of reading books definitely helped me this way.)
All of us carry our childhood naivety and innocence into our adult lives, as tools to get hurt. Mine had been associating ‘book reading and writing’ with ‘good character and kind heart’. It took me a while to realise that those who read books can also make the lives of others miserable. This had been my way of losing childhood innocence and becoming an adult.
This is not to say that all book readers are nasty but experience has taught me not to blindly push someone into my circle of trust, just because their house is stacked with books. Though I must admit that I would instinctively prefer a book reader over a non-book reader, nowadays I tell myself that no one is undesirable just because they don’t read any books and no one is a saint just because they read every book they get their hands on.
One of my best friends doesn’t read any books, my colleague whom I trust doesn’t read any books, my college classmate who stood up to defend me in an issue doesn’t read any books. When I make this connection among the non-book readers from compatibility and character point of view, I feel that the self-appreciating posts (Hey I read books, I am the best) by social media pages of publishing houses and writing groups need not extend to every book reader.
There are many with great characters even though they don’t read. With this experience in mind, I would prefer a good person with bad reading habits over a bad person who reads good books.