What kind of a reader are you?

After my very successful (ok the blog got a few hits alright?) post about discovering the kind of traveller you are, I have now decided to delve into another area of interest- reading. No two people are ever alike and as there are different styles of travelling there are also different styles of reading. This post tries to draw up a few generalised categories and I hope that you will feel that you have been aptly classified and stereotyped by the end of this post.

Do note that this is not about the kind of books you read, this is about how kind you are to the reading habit- or not!  Anyway moving very quickly on to the different categories-

The Terminator– Everytime the terminator picks a book from their shelf they say “Hasta la vista baby!” and that is exactly what sums them up. They read like a bulldozer running through a field- they devour every book in their path without mercy, going relentlessly from one book to another. They are not particular about the genre or the author. To them books are sustenance. No book can hope to delay them for any length of time. They get through any work- even the long, boring and obtuse ones. They are readers with an objective- get through the book and get on to the next one.


The Butterfly– Was it Muhamad Ali who said that he ‘floated like a butterfly but stung like a bee’? The butterfly readers are choosy about what they read. To them a book is like a plant- everything has to be in perfect condition for them to take the plunge. They are normally quite particular about the genre and do not easily stray away from their preferences. They may flit and hover for days or months on end until they find the perfect book- but once they do- they become one with the book- lost in its beauty.

The Butterfly

Multi-Tasker: Do I really even have to explain this? The multi-taskers multi-task with books. They read one book for breakfast, they listen to an audio-book over their commute, they have their lunchtime read and another book to help them fall asleep in the night. It is not yet clear why they do this- it may be because of their need to do multiple things at a time without getting bored or it may be because they think they can get through books faster this way. Reading all these books at the same time does not seem to confuse them, on the contrary they seem to get a better result out of some unexplained process of cross-fertilisation of ideas from different books.


The Unilibran– No, no, no this does not have anything to do with the sun-sign (I coined this term from Uni meaning One and Libro- meaning books). Like a faithful lover the unilibran can only ever contemplate being with one book at a time.  To them reading a book is like being in a committed relatoinship with someone and transgressing that line is a great sin. They will plough through the book even if it means that it will be months before they can touch another book. It is only when their commitment comes to an end that the Unilibran will think about another book.

The FIFOs: FIFO in management terms stands for First in First Out. The readers who fall into this category will always sequence their reading chronologically. If Book A was bought ahead of Book B, then Book A has to be read before Book B. No buts, no excuses, no exceptions. Even when their reading queue is miles long and they are reading a book that was more relevant in the 1970s, they will doggedly keep to their chronological order. Order is their motto!


The RAMs: Yes we are talking about Random Access Memory (remember those computer science lessons from another era- oh and I am assuming that you are a non-tech person, if you are a tech person them I will humbly beg your pardon). Need we say more? To the RAM things like order and chronology do not matter much. They will scan their bookshelf, (or close their eyes) and point randomly at a book and then start reading it. While books bought decades ago may languish in the book shelves, works published the previous evening on amazon.com could get precedence. Chaos is their motto!

The Conservator: The Conservator handles each book as a piece of history and legacy worthy to be kept in a museum. Not just the first editions but even the mass market paperbacks get the same loving care and attention that a conservator will bestow on his tribe. It has been postulated that books with high levels of good karma normally end their life-cycles in the arms of the conservator but this has not been verified yet. To a conservator folding a book, turning the pages with messy fingers or spilling drinks on books are an unspeakable crime akin to desecrating holy places of worship.


The Highlighter: You have seen them everywhere- in trains, in libraries and so on. People who would take a fluorescent green marker and run a thick daub through a page, or people who will dog-ear a page instead of using a bookmark. They carelessly fold a book and hold it in one hand while drinking coffee with the other in a moving and crowded bus or train (yes I know having hot drinks in trains and buses are not allowed in most places- the work of the conservator lobby). Often the conservators grimace and cringe when they see a book being illtreated thus (in their opinion) are not above asking the highlighter party to stop their inhumane actions. Of all the other categories much care must be taken to ensure that the conservator and highlighter are not often thrown together.

There are many other categories- the hoarder (a compulsive book-buyer who does not always read his books), the pincher( a person who steals/ extensively borrows for extended lengths of time books from friends/ family or libraries/ bookshops), the pedigree hunters etc and so on but my books is calling out to me and I need to wrap up this post. I’ll leave it to you to come up with more categories.

How do you read the books you read?

As always remember that you will not always clearly fit into one category but be a mix of one of two characteristics (but that is exactly the opposite of how I had hinted I would make you feel- so much for that!). Hope you enjoyed the post!


11 Comments Add yours

  1. Kamala says:

    Nice post on a touchy subject… Reading books is such an intimate experience, that each one to ‘oneself’ if I may say so. Personally I seem to come near the Butterfly family but the category I envy the most is the Terminator, because they are so relentless in their pursuit of devouring all the pages in front of them that they make you feel miserable about ‘how-on-earth-do-they-read-so-much’… Some times it really is about ‘quantity’ after all!

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      I know I try and set myself a terminator target of 50-60 books to read every year but I hardly even get to 30. I’m definitely not a butterfly though!

  2. Liked all the classsifications you got 🙂 variety of groups and am sure – everyone will be looking to find their combinations in the categories mentioned above 🙂

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      I wonder which one you thought you fitted into?

  3. Nirmala says:

    Before reading your blog never thought about types of readers!Wow.I suppose i am a sort of terminator butterfly!!!!!!! That is when i get the time to do nothing and read as much as i want !

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      Thats a good one! I never thought that was possible.

  4. Lav says:

    i’m a hoarder and need intervention asap….LOL

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      Book thief arriving soon- thank you for your interest in our services!

      1. Lav says:

        hey now!! are you calling me a book thief?!! You can check your collection, i didnt steal any..this time..hehehehe

      2. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

        Yeah, whatever!

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