You are What You Read

On the trainJust before I got on the MRT, I reconsidered my choice of book once more. I always read on the train; but even though I had brought a book out, I had been mulling over that fact throughout the day that I had only brought out one book: John Grisham’s The Partner, and had been regretting it almost from the moment I stepped out of the house. I considered it trash fiction and a bubblegum book — something enjoyable but ultimately valueless — and wished I had brought an alternative.

You could say (and I honestly did think so at that time) that it was the book being perceived as a waste of time that ultimately made me put it away; but such reasoning borders on the ridiculous. Considering how limited my scope of activity was cooped up in the train, saying that it wasted my time made little sense — anything would be better than nothing, which was the something I eventually did. It must have had to do with something more than simply wanting to avoid wasting time reading a trashy novel.

Generally, in the past the only fiction I read were the classics, though this has changed somewhat over the years. Now award-winning, critically acclaimed, contemporary works have become my fiction of choice. All these are and were, I have had myself believe, works of literature that made you think about deeper issues; works that allowed you insights into the human condition you couldn’t get otherwise; works that changed your life.

But let’s be honest here; saying that I only read these books because I totally believed in the power of these books would be flattering myself. I remember countless instances where I read a book not so much because I wanted to learn its lessons, but more because I wanted to be able to tell others that I had read the book. On that train that day, what I really wanted to do was to whip out one of these great book to let others see what I was reading and think, what a fine young man to read such a fine book.

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