Monday, January 08, 2007

Literature or Plot?

Any time I am asked for a preference while reading a book, my response almost instantaneously narrows down to the literature. As long as the book makes good reading with simple sentences, I do not get weighed down by the plot. I do not mind if a good plot does not find its way in the book, but as long as the simplicity of the words makes sense, it more than makes my day. Obviously, preferences are relative and totally depending on the individual. There would be hundred opinions counteracting my statement here that plot is more important than literature. That does not forbid me from reading novels. I have read almost all the books from the Sheldons, Archers, Haileys, Browns, where the plot is given high dominance. Of course, the writing is good, but there is a difference when you write a book meant exclusively for a high action gripping finish. Paulo Coelho of The Alchemist fame tends to strike a philosophical touch with his anecdotes that sways forth in all directions before ending with conviction.

I recently grabbed two different books of totally contrasting nature. To Kill a Mockingbird(voted as the best book of the twentieth century) by Harper Lee gives a stunning account of the life during the early thirties from a little child's perspective. The book has all the ingredients of fantastic literature and an equally fantastic plot. Some of the quotes have left a lasting impression in me. It is a simple concept of believing one's conscience over anything and everything. The author talks about the importance of living life for the sake of ideals and not for the sake of the society. The book talks of different examples from the daily walk of life, and then makes a transgression with ease to something dramatic, interrelating the different events in life without much ado. The author conveys what she intended to convey without a strain. It is so important for the reader to realize what the essence of the book is, and Harper Lee here has done a wonderful job in bringing out the pathos from the characters without diluting them in any figment of imagination. The plot is so beautifully interleaved with literature that at the end of the day you have had the satisfaction of having read a good book with the right meaning.

As I progressed on to the next book, The Good Earth offers an invaluable insight into the mainstay of the early period in China. A Pullitzer prize winner, The Good Earth is all about simple sentences with a very strong storyline. It talks about the plight of a young farmer who pulls his family out of the rut during the tough times, and gradually progresses to his old age, and how his life undergoes a transformation. But the whole point is, even during this metamorphosis, he retains the essence of life which happens to be the land. Pearl S Buck has etched simple characters and the book hurries through at a pace meeting the different protagonists of life - joy and depression. The complex things in life is explained with simple examples from the everyday life. Each character is associated with an emotion that can be easily identified.

Some of the books are such that they can easily withstand the ravages of time. They have had such a big impact that they can never fail to bring first time readers again. Books are meant to be written with a purpose in mind, and if it fails to send the right message across to the readers, then the whole exercise of writing a book turns futile. A book is a friend whom you can turn to during the best and worst of times. A heartwarming experience where you can find solace like nowhere else. At the end of the day, I hope I am blessed with the ability to read anything and everything under the sun. It would be phenomenal to experience the thrill of sharing the passion of the many writers of the English language.


  1. Just finished reading 'The Good Earth' and I couldn't agree with you more.

  2. Thanks and it is nice to know that you enjoyed the book!!!