Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why Shouldn't I Read Chetan Bhagat?

Recently I am finding much discussion and many articles on Chetan Bhagat and the kind of novels that he write. On one side there are his fan boys (and girls) who swear by him and would recommend him for the next Nobel prize if they had any say in the matter! On other side there are hard core literary enthusiasts who will never accept any one who writes in a language comprehensible to others as some one worth mentioning. And both sides are on an endless debate on the merits of CB, as the writer is affectionately called.

If you have been following Conscientious Reflections from some time, definitely you will be knowing I am no big fan of CB. And in many posts I have never missed a chance to take a dig on his populist writing style. In fact the only one novel of his that I read is The Three Mistakes of my Life, and I was of the opinion that it is nothing better than an average Bollywood movie story. My friends were of the opinion that I should try some of his better works, like Two States or Five Point Someone. The reason I never ventured above Three Mistakes is mentioned in one of the posts before. If I read a writer's book for the first time and I feel it was not worth the time spent on it, I will not try any of his other works. Not because I hate the writer, but when there are so many better books out there that cannot be read even in a lifetime, why to risk valuable time? (After reading his long and boring novel Insomnia, I never tried another one of Stephen King.)

No one can argue with the fact that CB is a phenomenal seller of books. His books, all paperback and priced competitively beats the competition by adopting a story telling style that is simple and pleasing to the mind. Most of his readership comprises of young, urban readers who has just become financially independent and just started the reading habit. (I know there are exceptions.) They relate to the plots in these novels, which are mostly everyday situations. So eventually what matters is Chetan Bhagat caters the need of a certain category of readers. I think no one can blame him for doing that. What is wrong if his books make a few thousands of people start a reading habit? At least a handful of them may graduate to a higher level of reading experience. If someone is not liking the kind of stuff he writes, they can always stop reading them. But no one can dictate that he should change his style just to cater their reading requirement. We all had read Enid Blyton or Chandamama during our childhood days. Now just because we have grown up, can we stop others from reading them? Won't it be absurd if instead of a humorous picture story, an article on stock trading appears on latest Archie comic?

To hard core CB fans, I have only this much to say, don't heed to any detractors. Enjoy reading what you feel like. But please keep in mind that there are many other delicious offerings out side the circle. Once in a while put on an adventure hat and go exploring. Check out Aravind Adiga on his White Tiger or Kiran Desai lamenting on the inheritance of loss. Spend some time exploring the life of Pi or of the midnight's children. Believe me, you will be delighted.


  1. I thought the post will throw some light on why I shouldn't read CB? But, it migrated away from its inherent title.. And yeah, I tot agree with you when you say.. let the fan read him and at times try someone better for a change.

    Weakest LINK

  2. Harsh . Count me in as another fan of cb. Lved reading ur post. His new revolution 2020 is just with me yet to read

  3. @rachit: Actually the title, why shouldn't i read cb, meant who are others to tell me not to read cb... If i wanted to list out the reasons i don't want to read cb, like you suspected, i would have made the title as Why I should not read cb..

    @sush: happy reading.

  4. Very well written! enjoyed it thoroughly!

    U very well brought out both the sides, ie fan sides of CB.

    Last para sums it up actually and shows your openess to things. I have read The Inheritence of loss by Desai and was moved by her writings. It's a beautiful book... and the end left me numb... that was the effect.

    I would like to read more posts like this, which gives ur analysis of things... i find it better than book reviews :)



  5. I am no fan of CB, but he seems to appeal to the majority. I would have thought someone with his background would write better.I am at present a fan of Amitav Ghosh. Here is a person who obviously does a lot of research and weaves his story around it. But if it was not for CB, we would have fewer people (as you say) who would pick up a book. We need both kinds.

  6. @restless: Hm.. I too do not like to write reviews. Thanks for the visit

    @radha: I too would like to read Amitav Ghosh..

  7. Awesome post! I'm not a great fan of Chetan Bhagat but I don't hate him either. I found Two States mildly entertaining and didn't like any of his other books. I prefer Jhumpa Lahiri and would like to read Midnight's Children ( have never got around to it), as far as Indian authors are concerned.

    of course, his books have somehow made anyone who can string two sentences together think they can write :/ there are so many books with bad grammar doing their rounds now. But there are still some truly witty and fun new authors, as far as contemporary not-very-literary authors are concerned that have emerged. I was pleasantly surprised by Judy balan's two fates!