The way I explain the dichotomy is by telling myself that books fall into two categories- the books that entertain and the ones that engage. Each has its uses, but to try and make a great deal about a book that has clearly been written to entertain is to do the book and the reader a great injustice.
In the last few months, the book that has most incurred by ire is Chetan Bhagat's "Two States". It is unlikely that even the author would pretend it is anything more than a book written with the sole purpose of entertaining the reader, but so many people reading the book on the local train have the irritating habit of looking down on you if you happen to be reading anything else.
"Listen buddy", I feel like telling them. "I read the book within days of its release, and I happen not to like it too much. I would appreciate it if you wipe that supercilious grin off your face, because that particular book doesn't exactly deserve it."
Of course I never get down to actually telling them that, but to pretend I have been indifferent to their condescending looks is to be not completely accurate.
But reading a good book has its uses. The other day, I was reading Kunal Basu's 'The Japanese Wife"on the local train when I happened to look up and found a lady staring hard at me. She gave me a broad grin the moment we made eye contact.
"Isn't that a fantastic book?" she trilled as I was in the process of scanning my memory banks to remember where I had met her."
"Yes", I agreed.
"And which of the stories do you like the most?', she asked.
"I have just started the book", I admitted. "Too early to pick out my favorite."
We spoke about the book a little longer, then compared notes on other books we had read and liked. By the time the train pulled into her station, we each had a list of books the other felt we had to read, and we were determined to pick up the books at the earliest opportunity.
Though we didn't exchange contact details, I made a friend that day. And all because of a book we both liked. I am not sure readers of popular books have an opportunity to bond the way we did.