October 6, 2014 1 Comment
I looked through a listing of books this morning and one snagged my attention. Migrations, Volume 1: Don’t Forget to Breathe by Ashim Shanker. I’m not sure what about it snagged my attention, really. The cover is black and gray, well, see for yourself:
It isn’t the type of cover that would normally intrigue me into looking deeper. That’s not to say anything is wrong with it, only that it isn’t the type of cover on the types of books I usually seek. Maybe it is the arches, or all those doors… something about it intrigued me enough to focus on the title. Honestly, it isn’t a title that would snag my interest either, only it did, and so I clicked the link and viewed the book.
It’s classified as metaphysical. That’s not typically my cup of tea. But it’s also classified as “Free will and determination” and “philosophy.” I’m into philosophy, so that appealed. And I’m always trying to better understand free will. What Christian isn’t? It’s a gift to us from God, and we know the value of determination and there’s always more to be learned there. So I read on.
Oddly, I didn’t go to the book description but to the “About the Author.” Especially when we’re talking about things that impact thought and mind, well, I guard mine, so I like to know about the person I’m permitting to enter.
Here’s what I found on Amazon.com’s product page about the author:
“Ashim Shanker has never been, and probably isn’t yet, but certainly aspires to be. Surely, one day he MIGHT be, but there is no guarantee he WILL be. He was disappointed to find out yesterday upon waking that he still wasn’t, nor would he be for the rest of the day. But still, today has not yet passed. So we must wait and see. In the meantime, we cannot rule out the possibility, however negligible, that he will have been at some point in the distant horizon. Yet, for the present, we are still faced with the bleak and disheartening probability that he never was, nor shall ever be. Whatever comes of such confusing matters, he nonetheless appreciates the interest of the reader and apologizes in advance for any time that is sure to be wasted in pointlessly deciphering the befuddling words of this trifling wannabe.”
Admittedly, I’m a practical idealist. There’s good versus evil, and good wins because it doesn’t quit and it chooses good over evil most often. Simple woman, simple outlook. But the writer in me was extremely intrigued by this paradoxical author’s self-view. Was this biography a deliberate attempt to manipulate? The sign of someone totally confused? Or someone trying to woo others with a mystical type of enchantment? Or was his purpose something else entirely?
I wasn’t sure. The Kindle edition happened to be free so I clicked it. That writer’s curiosity in me wanted to find out the rationale for that type of “About the Author” statement, and since there’s bits of the author in the books s/he writes, what better way to discover those answers than to read the work?
Only then did I go back to the page and read the book description and then the reviews. The description kind of made my eyes roll back in my head, but then I’m of the Twain persuasion—never use a nickel word when a penny one will do—and the reviews were mixed. Some accused the author of self-importance and useless bloviating, attempting to impress with his intellect. Others felt the work represented exactly what it said it would. One remarked that the author didn’t take himself too seriously and provoked thought. Humor was mentioned.
That’s a good balance, as reviews go. If everyone loves it or hates a book, okay. But it’s when there’s a mix of reviews on a book that I’m confident it touched people in some way, and being touched (versus indifferent) is success.
So I remained intrigued by this author and wanted to read his thoughts. As I said, I’d already downloaded the book.
And then I looked at the “also boughts.” You know, on the product page, down at the bottom where it says what other books customers who bought this one bought also.
Had I read it first—and just being honest here—I wouldn’t have downloaded the book. Foul language leaves me cold. But there was also a Jane Austen title. So again, a mixed bag.
Now, this discovery surprised me—about myself. The author didn’t write those other “also bought” books. Didn’t title them. They had nothing to do with this book. And yet I would have made a buying decision based on them.
That would have been unfair. So I guess that’s why this venture worked out as it did—to reveal that unfairness in me to me.
I shall read the first three pages of this book and then decide whether or not to read on.
Obviously, I can’t recommend the book since I’ve not yet read it. But I discovered, along with the admitted unfairness, I also do not choose what to read as a reader. I choose as a reader and writer. Maybe the two are inseparable. I’ll need to think more on that.
What’s fascinated me about this is I didn’t choose to get a book based on the book but because the author was interesting—characterization, I find fascinating. Is that common? I don’t know. Is it?
What makes you choose the books you choose?
That isn’t a rhetorical question. I really would like to know, so I hope you’ll share your thoughts with me in the comments.