On Reading a Great Book

How do you define a great book? Is it all about the story or message or how it makes you feel? I have been trying to answer it for quite a long time. And it suddenly dawned on me while finishing up 100 Years of Solitude. Now there’s no disagreement that its a great book(not even from people who haven’t read it). I realized its all about how a book makes you feel after you finish reading it.

I believe every book you read leaves you a changed person. Even the most bland book makes an infinitely small change in you. Some books inspire you, some depress you, at any rate it leaves you older than when you started it.

As i finished 100 Years i was terribly depressed. The only other book that managed to make me feel remotely close to this is “Apaharikkappetta Daivangal” by Anand. But the way they take you there are totally different. Apaharikkappetta Daivangal takes you on a slowly descending journey into depression whereas 100 Years takes you through ups and down and finally smashes your sandcastle. Then stomps on it. It reminds me of something Bane said in Dark Knight returns “There can be no true despair without hope”. Even in the last page Gabo kindles our hope and then proceeds to stamp it out.

I wonder how an author manages to do that. To reach out from the pages of a book and strangle you. To keep you awake at night making you think not about the book or its contents but about yourself. I experienced a deluge of memories after reading 100 Years. Both good and bad ones. It makes you wish you could keep all your memories in a jar and experience them all over when you want.

So live life. Doesn’t miss out any opportunity you get to spend time with people. Don’t worry if it goes bad you can probably laugh over it someday.

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