Whether it’s conspiracy books, biographies or racy thrillers, your choice could say something about yourself, say experts
By Jayanthi Madhukar
Dec 8, 2011
The new adage goes like this: Show me what you read and I’ll tell you the kind of person you are. Why do people read what they read? Do books define a person? Apparently, they do (otherwise, we wouldn’t be writing this article and you wouldn’t be reading it either).
For some, fantasy or science fiction books hold no interest at all. And for some, comic books are gospel. Reasons for the choice of a particular tome are plenty: dislike/fear of challenging material, a disability to suspend their beliefs, a wish to inhabit a world clearly not their own or a penchant for the “here and now”. Some genre of books require a reader to adhere to the presented scientific or fantastical definitions, extrapolations, and assumptions which are typically left-brain processing and some require to read for character and following his/her emotional journey – that is right-brain processing. Some genres like scientific fiction require a bit of both. This perhaps explains the books in your bookshelf.
Mind reader Nakul Shenoy and clinical psychologist and psychotherapist Veena Chakravarthy decipher the varied personalities based on the ‘book-type’ they are.
Personality traits: Motivated, inspired and non-impulsive.
When US President Barack Obama was spotted taking Ronald Reagan’s biography on a holiday trip, the media was all agog, wondering what he could learn from the late US President’s life.
But what are the characteristics of those who read this genre?
Nakul: Such people firmly believe that history repeats itself. Even if not, history presents the best life lessons. They aim to lead an exemplary life emulating the high morals of their heroes, and avoiding their mistakes.
Veena: These people like to be inspired and motivated. Persons reading autobiographies and biographies tend to look up to great personalities to guide them.
They like to follow a tried and tested method rather than doing something impulsive. They like to follow a path that is correct and constructive.
Personality traits: Knowledge junkie, detail oriented and geek-ishIn the age of Google, it takes some real knowledge-hungry people to read encyclopedias.
Nakul: Such people are most likely to have been a quiz-whiz at school and a budding quizmaster at college. Given a chance they would have made that a career, but today are proud to be the ‘know-it-all’ in their social circle.
Veena:They like to be intellectually stimulated. For them knowledge is like a drug. They constantly want to know about new things, even if it doesn’t pertain to their profession. They are curious and want to get into details and are challenged by new, fresh and voluminous information.
Personality traits: Adventurous, curious and love the not-so-normal Armchair detectives who like to crack whodunits enjoy that element of surprise which the humblest of books from this genre attempt to have.
Nakul: These people believe that life is all about having fun and living it to the fullest. They believe that they are the adventurous type and often think back fondly of that trek they did a decade back.
Veena: These people like to unravel things. They are curious. They enjoy adventure and the adrenalin rush. They like to know about the darker side of human nature as well. Mystery helps them feel, think and taste things differently from the way they normally do.
Personality traits: Control freaks, logical thinkers who do not trust easily Did Apollo 13 really land on the moon, did Lee Harvey Oswald really kill Kennedy – these are the people who will give their opinions on every such debatable topic.
Nakul: People who like to read conspiracies seldom believe anything unless they have proven it to themselves. In most cases, this is achieved by reading at least three books on the topic, even if they offer the same perspective.
Veena: These people are, more often than not, political minds. They want to know how people think and what they can do to conspire against someone. People reading conspiracies may not be easily trusting. They are people who want to be prepared and keep things in control.
Genre: Self Help
Personality traits: Love playing agony aunt; problem solvers (or at least they like to think they are)
Some of the most popular books are from this genre: Who Moved My Cheese, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari to name a few.
Nakul: This is not the first of these books such people have read, nor is it the last. Reading these is a journey of sorts, and an end in itself. The knowledge is used to play agony aunt, to guide and advice anybody they cross paths with.
Veena: This genre could be the one (apart from spiritual books) that people turn to when they are distressed, need help to clear their minds and handle situations.These types are action oriented. They try to find solutions to problems; they don’t believe in ‘sweeping it under the carpet for another day’.
Personality traits: Serious-types; definitely not frivolous or trivial in their ways.
Nakul: Such people take life a tad too seriously. They feel that there is always more than enough things to learn and talk about the real world, to even bother and make time for the make-believe. They are most likely to have also signed their support for most online petitions.
Veena: Such people like to be connected with reality. Clearly, fantasies, fiction or make believe will not impress them much.
Personality traits: Happy-go-lucky attitude; they live in the ‘now’ Nakul: For these people language is sacrosanct and so is humour. Speaking of P G Wodehouse fans for example, these people are mostly (over)dressed for the occasion and their text messages will make Wren & Martin proud.
Veena: These people are generally light-hearted. They take things easy and are not always fretting about their future. Without changing anything in ‘objective’ reality, humour permits reality to laugh at itself, and in doing so, to stand outside of itself, to become other to itself.
And those who read racy titillating books “want to explore things through reading. It’s like seeking answers to questions without having to ask. These could be things they are uncomfortable to ask. A book helps them get the answers,” says Veena.