Classification of fiction books

Before I begin giving you my classification, let me first answer the question ‘Why a new classification?’  Of course, we already have literary genres, which is simple enough to be used by everyone in classifying fiction books. The problem is that it doesn’t have any systematic criteria on classifying fiction books. Sometimes, it is named based upon how you feel while reading it: if you get scared while reading, it’s called horror; if you are thrilled to read it, then it will be called a thriller. Sometimes, it’s based upon the nature of story: if it is based on a scientific concept, then it’s called sci-fi, if it’s based on a crime, then it’s called a crime novel.  

Alright, once I have established the need for another classification scheme, let me tell you what I hope to achieve by a more systematic one. Using this scheme, I hope readers, both old and new, can have a more enjoyable reading experience by knowing better how to approach the book at hand. And hopefully, it can be used as a guide to pick up a right book.
What’s the classification scheme I have used? We will compare the pace of the characters versus that of the plot in a book.  Based on this, there are three kinds of fiction books in this world:
1. Fast paced: The one in which the  plot moves faster than the character. These books usually focus on the plot. As a reader, you will find yourself engrossed in the twists and turns of the plot. While reading the book (and if it is really good), the only thing you want in your life is to reach the end of it. Most of the suspense thriller/suspense and crime novels fall into this category. For example, Sherlock Holmes series and works of Agatha Christie.
2. Slow paced: The other extreme is the one in which characters move faster than the plot. These books spend a lot of time on sketching characters, and their environment. While reading such stories, you might wonder why should you care about the weather or the clouds or the trees around? The book believes that by knowing about the environment, you will get to understand more about the characters and their moods. You would find that in these books, most of the time the plot is not moving at all, while one character is moving from one place to another. The place might not be a geographical place; it might be moving from one place to another in an abstract space as far as characteristics of the character (like mood or age)  is concerned. While reading such a book, you will notice the mood swings of both the characters and yourself as a reader. And you should never be in a hurry to reach the end of it. For example, Lord of the Rings,  A song of Ice and Fire,  A Suitable Boy,  Atlas Shrugged, and Fountainhead.
3. Medium paced: The third one lies in the vast middle of this spectrum.  The author takes time to carve out both the characters and the plot. The author will try his/her best to strike a balance between giving details about the plot and the characters. For example, Harry Potter series, To kill a mockingbird, Kingkiller chronicles (less popular but highly recommended), Kite Runner.
For someone who is just starting their journey into fiction books, I would suggest depending upon your mood and interest, pick either the first or the third category. I feel from my experience of reading Lord of the Rings that you should leave the second category for the later part of your journey.
P.S:  Thanks goes to my friend Vaibhav Karve for seeding this idea into my head.

Taxonomy of Love

What is love? A working definition could be love is something more than attachment. If you don’t like my definition, you would at least agree with mathematician G.H Hardy who said that “we may not know quite what we mean by a beautiful poem [love], but that does not prevent us from recognizing one when we read [see] it”. Once preliminaries are out of our way, I would list down my classification of various types of love seen around us –

  • Casual Love: It can be in the form of what people say to be infatuation/crush/puppy love. Or it can be a one-night stand. You get as easily infected as you get over it. Despite its short shell life, it can sometimes start with a thunderbolt and leave a lasting trace.
  • Domestic Love: Love that you take for granted. This guaranteed stability is its cause for salvation as well as its downfall. You would go all around the world looking for love ignoring it completely. But each time you return disappointed, domestic love would be always there waiting for you with its open arms, just like home. This is the most undervalued, underrated love.
  • Solitary Love: Love that is best enjoyed without nobody’s company, all alone in the seclusion. Of course, narcissism is included in this category but I am sure you are not thinking about it. It is popularly believed that males are the sole practitioner of this ignominious love. But there are beauties who have discovered it for their private pleasure. Once you taste the fruits of the labor, it is difficult to let go off it even for married ones. It is a great stress-reliever and you can have whenever you feel like, subject to only time and space constraint. For novices, it provides first opportunity to explore themselves.
  • Bedroom Love: Many would vehemently keep enough distance between the words love and sex. There is not any if we we are talking about bedroom love. Now again many of us would say what one does which involves above the waist is spiritual love and the one which involves below the waist is physical love. Why there is so much reluctance to accept the divinity and purity of the orgasmic pleasure one gets during copulation? Accept it and enjoy it without any guilt! It is not for nothing that Pagans believed that it is a means of enlightenment.
    Okay, I think a clarification is in order. The whole one-night stand affair is casual love but what you do during the night is bedroom love.
  • Unrequited Love: Love that is tragic and comic at the same time. You would be pledging your love to be pure (read not associated with sexual desire) in front of their photographs and dreaming to make them your life partner, but the other doesn’t even get to know that you exist. Or worse, they know everything about your love, but they don’t care about it or they pretend so. If you are wasting your time playing the waiting game, it means you believe it is the latter. Don’t do that. Instead follow tenth commandment of Osho: do not search; that which is, is; stop and see. This is the most despicable love. Avoid it at all costs and move on to a different love as soon as possible.
  • Perfect Love: Love that is told to be eternal, absolute and unconditional. Almost always it is supposed to be love-at-first-sight with a zing factor. In other words, once you see it, you can never miss it. It is often believed that it is spontaneous; you don’t need to put any effort as it will come looking for you on its own. Sadly you rarely experience it and if you do, it doesn’t last for more than a few moments. Every relationship has those perfect moments of triumph over banality. And nostalgia makes you feel you only had such moments in your past. If you are wise enough to resist nostalgia, then you would find yourself lured by the red roses and chocolates, walk during rains or full-moon nights, a world painted by the romantic songs, movies and novels. All of them are bent on making you believe the magic is for real. At the end of the day, they are a substitute for reality which help you to indulge in what is called vicarious love.
  • Vicarious Love: Love that is derived, the love you experience second-hand either in romantic novels or movies. You can’t brush aside its seriousness just because it’s imaginary.

(Acknowledgement: Inspiration goes to Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the time of cholera, and all of my past and present loved ones)

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