Sunday, November 1, 2009

Love of Books, and Books of Love

The big problem with being a bibliophile is that one needs regular shots of books to keep sane. The bigger problem of being a bibliophile is that the only way to get these regular shots is to buy the dratted books. Nice, neat solution you say? Not if you are almost permanently broke and especially not if you live in a house where it is almost impossible to walk for five minutes without tripping over books (I really don’t know why though. I think the books have little baby books in the nights. We can’t possibly have brought so many).

So what does one do? One trawls the area and joins the only library which seems to exist in the city. And so have I.

Now this library (and I use the term euphemistically) has been started by one fellow K. It is about the size of a large walk-in-closet and is bursting at the seams with M&B’s, Archies, Joan Collins and not much else. So I have been wading through this not-much-else’s of his (I had taken a diksha that I shalt not read MB’s when I was 14have stuck to it so far).

K unfortunately labours under the illusion that he understands his clients. Thus, every unsuspecting borrower is ambushed with what he thinks are great recommendations and he gets quite offended if one doesn’t borrow the said book. I tried his suggestions a couple of times – fairly innocuous sounding titles and synopsis. And then I found books rampant with “six foot of virile masculinity and rippling abs with ( or without) tight Armani T-shirts” and “women who had sweat drenched shirts tucked in and open to show delectable mounds of bronzed flesh” which has endangered a severe mistrust of his must-reads. (Yes K, there ARE females in the universe who don’t like books of lovin’ particularly. Interesting sidebar, noticed how male porn is always visual and femme porn is always verbal?).

Now having gone through most of the readable books, and quite a few unreadable ones, I find myself having to confront variations of these soft-porn and romantic thingummies.

M&B of course I have vowed not to read. Other books in the genre which I have picked up over the years in book-drought times have been along the following lines.
Danielle Steeles – read some of her stuff in my teens and came to the conclusion that all her books followed the following construct
1.A misunderstood and difficult childhood wali heroine
2.With a name which was usually Alexandra ( Alex for short) ( sometimes for variation the hero was called Alex)
3.The heroine lost her virginity at age 19
4.She went through 3 men – 2 of them who died in tragic and heartrending fashion and left the poor heroine destitute and/or pregnant and/or completely alone
5.Tears and crying in approximately 76.31% of the pages

Nicholas Sparks’s appears to the male equivalent of DS. Only with more muscular hero who dies in the end – the hero can either be a fireman or a cop or a recluse living on an island. The tough masculinity belied by the tender-easily-broken heart just aching to love and be loved.

Then there was one female called Judith McNought – who apparently tried to write historical stuff. But then her heroes had names like ‘Wolf’ and ‘Fox ‘or ‘Raven’ (NEVER ‘Crow’) who ravish women and then fall in love with the “innocence shining out of their eyes” (and also the voluptuousness shining out of their bodies), but they tie themselves into guilt-ridden knots since they have raped the said women.

The woman of course, has this rather conflicted view of wolf. On the one hand, she is horny as hell and wants to be er...taken again. On the other hand, the woman is passionately in love with the misunderstood poor-little-rich-boy-ignored-by-his-parents-in-childhood-and-hence-turned-into-ravager and wants to reform him. But then she also mistrusts him because he has the power to “shatter her heart into a million splinters”. And then all ends happily ever after.

Frankly, I think most females would have a strong distaste for anyone who rapes them – even assuming the said rapist is an Adonis look-alike. But maybe, that’s just my point of view.

The BEST plot however goes as follows (I had read this a dozen years ago and I still remember it.) I cannot for the life of me recall the name of the book or the author though. The story went something like this.

Starts with a suicide of a rich, successful, handsome (blah, blah) man. No one knows why this fellow should commit suicide since he is on the verge of a marriage with a girl of his dreams who happens to be also twenty years younger than him. So she (or someone else) starts investigating into the death.

Flashback time
1.Rich farmer A rapes next door neighbour’s fifteen or sixteen year old daughter B
2.B gets pregnant.
3.B’s parents coerce A to get hitched to B.
4.A and B get hitched, have a baby son C
5.Three four years of misery for B pass, while A continues to plant his seeds in the neighbouring lands.
6.B decides enough is enough and takes off into the sunset leaving A and C behind. End of B
7.Fifteen years later, C is hotness personified.
8.C goes to the Riviera or somewhere, and has a steamy affair with a Mrs. Robinson – let’s call her D. D is also married to rich fellow E.
9.Affair ends, D and E fade into the background
10.Twenty years further on, C falls in REAL love with F. They romance, they slow dance and they prance.
11.And then C commits suicide.
13.Because he finds out that a) Mrs Robinson (aka D) was actually B- his mother.
14.And he also finds out that from that torrid affair of his, this D/B/Mother had conceived a child – who, hold your breath turns out to be F the same person he has been having a romance with which of course involves sharing the conjugal bed.
15.F is essentially C’s child, conceived with C’s mother.

Do you feel like throwing up now? I did.

After that I have a mortal fear of picking up any such books.

Sigh. I need a new library.


Meira said...

I tried reading Shobha De once! I burnt the book soon after! I hit Landmark every week! We haven't bought our furniture, but the weekly dose of books is never forgotten! They had an awesome 50% discount on last month. I now have some 30 books waiting to be read, all bought for 100-200 :)

Pinku said...

Poor You...

I thought your city had a British Council Library...why dont you check on that?

secondly delhi has some online libraries...see if you can find one in your part of the country. about starting such a library of your own. the mechanism is fairly simple and you could go into business of your own.
If you are interested let me know, will forward details of the lady who does the delhi thing.

Good luck!!

Pinku said...

came back to also say that the last storyline you mentioned was a copy from the story of Oedipus

Greek tragedy written by Sophocles.

a traveller... said...

You could try Georgette Heyer - by far the only author of historical romance I can stand :)

Cynic in Wonderland said...

Meira. Bah. STOP gloating. I dont have money. BAH.

Pinku ah oedipus, thats a good connect. know the myth of course. maybe because that was a tragedy. this was just horror. BCL and all are VERY far away. I have since discovered which has made me very happy.

traveler. yup read most of heyer. i LIKE heyer. her characters are fully flawed and disarming.

a traveller... said...

Oh good I love finding fellow Heyer fans.

Also, since you like flawed characters, you could try Jennifer Crusie. Dunno if you get her books in India though; I have MS reader versions of her books. :-|

Mehak said...

lol...this is hillarious...i tried reading a mills and boon once and then, before id even finishd it, i'd vowed to never touch one again

Lazy Pineapple said...

omg omg....what an apt description....and I very nearly threw up...I remember such libraries...thankfully Lancaster has a good library and which is absolutely freeeeee :)

Priyanka said...

Oh, I can sympathize - both, with the corner bookwala and the authors you mentioned. I remember stealing one of my aunt's judith mcnaughts and reading my first ever 'romance' novel - and I kept wondering why they called it 'romance' when there is no romance in it.
Librarywala does have a good collection of books. The trick is to find one that is available!! ;)

sra said...

I've never known the Oedipus complex to enter popular fiction - so I'm keen to read that book now. Think of it, any other love story or fast reading would have ended with F miraculously NOT being C's child (much like Indian movies).

Victoria Holt is another teenage staple, ever tried her? Very older man-young thing romances, but lots of mystery and suspense (that's what I remember now). She wrote several books under a string of pseudonyms. I've never read an M&B in my life, though I have read some Danielle Steele, Judith Krantz and McNaught

Whinophile said...

I have never read M&B and DS and don't even intend to. I always feel they might be too cheesy for my liking..

And here's a revolting conversation I had with someone I met socially in 2005:

Me : So what do you like, I mean, hobbies something?
He : I LOVE reading.
Me : Yeah? What do you like to read?
He : I love to read Chetan Bhagat's book.

Apparently, at that time, Chetan Bhagat had written only ONE book.

mentalie said...

the only kind of book i cannot read is the self help book. and for some reason, emma.

Mukta said...

you can get really cheap books at hong kong lane or abc in ur city. good ones too.
and i was surprised to discover that, the 'books of love' are devoured not just by the females... a lot of guys read em too, surreptitiously! not that most would own up to it.

thenitknumbskulls said...

oh what a plotline. oh what a plotline.
Apart from the occasional "Good god, wtf!" i emit, i'm fine after reading this. really.

thenitknumbskulls said...

i've never read mills and boons. There however used to be this girl in my school whose MOTHER encouraged her to read m&b. at age thirteen. 'perfect transition between chota-mota storybooks and big-big novels', apparently.

thenitknumbskulls said...

i've never read mills and boons. There however used to be this girl in my school whose MOTHER encouraged her to read m&b. at age thirteen. 'perfect transition between chota-mota storybooks and big-big novels', apparently.

thenitknumbskulls said...

i've never read mills and boons. There however used to be this girl in my school whose MOTHER encouraged her to read m&b. at age thirteen. 'perfect transition between chota-mota storybooks and big-big novels', apparently.

thenitknumbskulls said...

whoops, duplicate comments. sorry.

P said...

ewww..yes I almost threw up.
Are you comfortable reading things on a screen? Then a lot of books are available online on google books these days..mostly old classic types. But before you start reading any of these check to make sure it has all the pages. Sometimes they are just previews.

shub said...

I missed reading the last two points, and read only until 13 (thanks ADD) and then pondered if it wouldn't be cool (!) if F turned out to be B's child.
And I thought yay I have a career I can look into. But I wasn't creative enough to think F turns out to be C's child as well. Hmm.

My mind then went into a whirl thinking of how many pairs of same genes this poor C has.

Cynic in Wonderland said...

Traveler - she is good? lemme see if i can find something.

Mehak - i have read ONE. On a bet. Urgh.

Priyanka - yes, that and to deliver it in this lifetime. thats been my biggest problem with em.

sra - i think i read one Holt. It was mystery-romance types no? Sort of a pseudo du maurier wannabe? Oh and judith krantz. How the heck did i forget her. I have read ONE book of hers, and it was superbly memorable. I should post about this some day.

Whinophile - oh yes, I know people who have the whole collections of his and swear by it. But i have to say i like him ( not for the reason he may be happy about tho). he gives me hope that if he can get published, maybe i shouldnt throw in the towel just yet.

Cynic in Wonderland said...

lazy pineapple - there used to be good libraries at one point here too. dont know what happened.

mentalie - emma? explain. why emma. self help books ah yes. ever read "i moved your cheese?"

Mukta - its like 50% of womens magazines are read by men. but do they read MBs?

The nitnumbskulls - mother? really? education and all that? or filling up kids head with unreal notions about love and romance?

p - i do that sometimes. but you know i like to hold and smell and feel the books. weird confession but there is a pleasure in that too no?

shub - hehehe i did that too. and also was thinking of the family tree and how the branches would look.

ani_aset said...

"books have little baby books in the nights"--- LOL you serious ;)?
" “six foot of virile masculinity and rippling abs with ( or without) tight Armani T-shirts” and “women who had sweat drenched shirts tucked in and open to show delectable mounds of bronzed flesh” " haha very cheesy..

Thanks for the daniele steele/Nicholas sparx/judith summary :D i dont have to read any of it now :D

There are people
-who write such stories
-read such stories
-do not stop at reading go ahead and publish such stories
-and there are people who buy such stories
-read these stories
-read and arrange to route it to local library
-and aww you happen to pick it up :(

Starry-eyed nut said...

Yikes................the last one was really confusin I had to read it TWICE :)
I still have a soft corner for the M&Bs, DS and Barbara Cartlands, their heroines in cascading satin, sheer muslin, glittering emeralds, fluttering eyelashes still brighten my day :)
Interspersed with some "real books" these are quite readable..
But the last plot, man takes the cake...

Anonymous said...

Perfect portrayal of DS and yes MB sucks...the last plot is so sick who writes such type of novels? and more importantly who reads's pathetic...

sunshin3girl said...

First thing first, that is one fantabulous post. Second, you did good by skipping MBs. I read them during my first year in college only but then those were the only books I read that year. They definitely classify has porn for women, I do not even want to prefix the word 'soft.' Daniel Steele and Nicolas Sparks also feed the young female's hunger of excessive emotions.

However, from the romances that I have read, the one that closest to your 15 point description is a classic, "The Thorn Birds" by Colleen Mccullough. :\

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Australopithecus said...

look look spam..above.

and in this comment also.

Amey said...

Umm, the crazy convoluted plot with rich peoples' affairs... Sounds like Sindey Sheldon, right? Although the suicide may put it in Jeffrey Archer territory.

Amey said...

BTW, you looking for a library in Pune? What happened to BCL?

Thanatos said...

Hmm, interesting story that. Reminds me of this song

I am my own grandpa

Sanand said...

This was such a funny post. Well, my wife has a HUGE collection of all book genres. She is constantly lending the books (for free) and never getting them back in good condition.

Anyway, the only books I have read are just one or two, because I dont have the time or patience to sit through to read one at one go.

Indian writers, I am told, are emerging as the best option. I think you could try them and by the way, try Aravinda Adiga, Amitav Ghosh, Manju Kapur, Kaveri Nambisan, etc. And trust me, I am not a publisher and I am definitely not related to any of these guys:)

Cynic in Wonderland said...

ani_aset- extremely cheesy they are yes. there was another one by a dame called nisha someone. it was so bad, it was almost art.

starry eyed nut- cartland is supposed to have some historical charm isnt it? dunt remember having read her tho.

anon - apparently they have an audience, else friend K would NOT have kept em isnt it?

sunshin3girl - oh yes, thornbirds. at one point in school i think it was THE book to read. mentioned with hushed reverence types. So i did. some priest and somethingummy no???

austro - shush.

amey - dunt think it was sheldon. sheldon reminds me of this fellow in school - skinny, hornrimmed glasses and he used to go around everyday with this enormous sheldon book ( at a time when we were NOT supposed to be reading sheldon hehe. the boys used to wade thru the books to find out the er..juicy bits). bcl not possible most of the times sigh.

thanatos- you know i think the plot i have outline might be more screwed up then the song. that one at least doesnt have rampant incest.

sanand - oh i read those if i can get hold of em too no. only the dratted library doesnt have em.

AmitL said...

ROFL..Cyn,you have the same probs as we/I do..:)Books falling out of nearly every nook and corner.:)
The analysis of various writers was amusingly amusing,to say the least.(Though,what fans of these writers will feel,I dunno-watch out!)
The best description?'“innocence shining out of their eyes” (and also the voluptuousness shining out of their bodies),"..ROFL haven't read any of this writer's books,(un)fortunately.:)

Dreamer said...

This is my first visit to your blog and you had me hooked with this post. The 'forcing romance novels down poor unsuspecting women's throats' is an affliction that infects not just librarians, but also the second hand book peddler. I tend to haunt these places because they sometimes can have real treasures. There are folks who are willing to sell books like 'The Shining', what can I say! Back to the point, the minute these sales blokes see a woman they assail M&B's, Barbara Cartland and Harelquins. The best part of an M&B, according to me is the unintentional humor.

The Weekend Blogger said...

I swore that I would never read a M&B after reading the first one at the not-so-tender age of 13...I even remember the title of the book "That Man Bryce"...I found it rather dull given that I had already begun reading Jackie Collins by then...followed by Danielle Steele...I was out of this routine by the time I was 14 and by then I ran from any book that was described as a "romance" till my English teacher forced me to read Gone With The Wind and Thornbirds. Books are my life and I spend on and own more books than clothes. I am fast running out of space for my precious books but I simply refuse to part with them.

Swatimala said...

hey, came across ur blog...its amazing..keep writing...and tht book in the end, it is 'dangerous 2 know' by barbara taylor bradford...the book was indeed dangerous 2 know :P

i was turned off books for 2 months after readin it

Cynic in Wonderland said...

YES!!! ITS BARBARA TAYLOR BRADFORD. I kept on thinking cartland and i knew that wasnt right. Thank you swatimala. Now i can sleep in peace.

weekend blogger - strongly recco librarywala then. for broke book-mad bloggers :)

dreamer - you are right. my second hand raddiwala who used to moonlight as a library used to also try and palm these books on me. i read such nonsense then its not funny.

amit - question, you think all bloggers like books?