Things I Heard in A Bookstore : “Diorang baca novel je ni”

I want The Song of Roland… where is Kate’s daddy…

One of my unfortunate habits was that I frequent in several local bookstore and spent too much in it that they’re a second home for me. I could even keep track on recent reshelving and restocking at certain book section of Bookxcess, Kinokuniya and Popular. But while it was common for book people to haunt these places, people are generally quiet while browsing and in such situation, its surprisingly easy to eavesdrop on people who don’t share the same views with you. For example:

I’m searching for something to supplement the inevitable coming SPA entry exam and there’s these three guys walking by the section with a purpose… to give a social commentary on Malaysian reading habit. 

Most notably, the tendency to look down on people who read novels.

A definition of the word “novel” by Brittanica.

A novel, an invented prose narrative of considerable length and a certain complexity that deals imaginatively with human experience, usually through a connected sequence of events involving a group of persons in a specific setting. Within its broad framework, the genre of the novel has encompassed an extensive range of types and styles: picaresque, epistolary, Gothic, romantic, realist, historical—to name only some of the more important ones.

The novel is a genre of fiction, and fiction may be defined as the art or craft of contriving, through the written word, representations of human life that instruct or divert or both. The various forms that fiction may take are best seen less as a number of separate categories than as a continuum or, more accurately, a cline, with some such brief form as the anecdote at one end of the scale and the longest conceivable novel at the other. When any piece of fiction is long enough to constitute a whole book, as opposed to a mere part of a book, then it may be said to have achieved novelhood.

Alone by itself, the definition of a novel can stretch as far as the imagination could hold onto itself and by itself, it was harder for me to assume that the word ‘novel’ itself can be equalized beneath the level of average literature. Any written work even non-fiction can have some of its fictional qualities in certain aspect. What one accepted as nonfiction is a fictionalization for another. The definitions are interchangeable but the reality remain, personal taste varied from one to another and it can change from time to time. What you think irrelevant junk today might have further literary quality in the future and vice versa.

But this constant repetitiveness of turning noses up on those who browse questionable reading selection was another grandiose view of one’s own over another. You can dress up like picture perfect definition of warak-ness but it won’t protect you from those demonic tendencies of narcissism.

Voices do carry… so while you’re ranting on how the society are going to collapse because people kept reading novels, think for a moment… you’re in a bookstore with a very diverse selection of books and people. One of the things people don’t like was you questioning their reading habit as if it was something to be ashamed of.

The act of reading never should be associated with anything shameful. The act of reading is the act of freedom. Your free will to read and loving that act is what define the love of reading. People who hate reading are the ones who traumatized enough that they became conditioned to associate the free act of reading as torturous and blasphemous.

That’s how things can go dystopia very rapidly.

But nope. You stare at people who were browsing the said shelves and then silently judging people including me when I came nearer to browse the said section… but I could feel the judgement streaming out from the corners of your ears along with your friends’.

Which is weird because its a bloody bookstore and people are free to browse and have choices to read or not to read. People don’t come into a bookstore to be judged by the things they browse or buy.

These are the same kind of group who would just drop by and walk by a shelf and lo and behold, half naked boddiceripper historical novels and they’re like, “This whole bookstore need to be banned. People read these NOVEL things. Inside everything was all porn!”


Ladies do appreciate literary porn.

As do a lot of men – and they write them too.

But not all novels have sex in it. In fact, they can be drier than Sahara.

In fact, real life people rather have actual sex and they do it everyday around the world. 

So, get over it.


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