Writers’ Overdose

Continuing on my May reading spree, I finished a few books that I had marked “to read” on Goodreads. Incidentally, most of the ones I completed, were by Umera Ahmad.

The stories I finished were:

And there are a few observations. Things that I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.

First, and foremost, her writing can be addictive. Once you start the book, it is very difficult to put it down. Her narration is so dramatic. I hold my breath while reading, anticipating another twist in the tale. She knows how to engage the reader.


I attribute it totally to reading it all at once, but I feel like I had an overdose of her. After that, except for Hilal-e-Jur’at, all the stories, and the characters, seemed just the SAME.


1) Her characters are always extreme. Too good or too bad. There are few real people.

2) Her hero (which is female) is best at everything. She knows it all.

3) It is dark. There is revenge, conspiracy, and insults, ALL THE TIME.

4) It is repetitive. The army, the bureaucracy, the CSS exams. Characters are commissioners, and Army Captains, and Retired Generals, in so many stories, that I can’t distinguish between those.

I thought more and more about it. I felt that I could generalize those observations to other writers as well.

  • Ibn-e-safi’s most of the book are about international espionage. Some books even use the same settings. He is still my go-to author of all times. Read him to change your mood.
  • Jeffery Archer’s books have auction, board room meetings, court room drama, trials, life at prison. If you read his books back to back, you will start to feel you are reading the same thing; even if the stories are worlds apart.
  • John Grisham’s books will talk about life of a lawyer, trials etc. Again, can make you feel that it’s all the same.
  • Others like Nemrah Ahmad, Nighat Abdullah, Masroor Jahan, etc also use the same elements again and again.

What I am saying is, even if some of the elements are repeated in all / most of the stories; they are excellent story tellers. And they know how to hold a reader’s attention. If you feel, like I did, that it is sounding too similar; switch to some other author for a while. By all means, however, read all the work by all your favorite authors. The names I listed are some of my favorite ones. How ’bout you?

Happy Reading!


Shabana Mukhtar

One Comment Add yours

  1. Sara Saif says:

    I agree with everything you said! It is true that writers sometimes use the same elements in their books, what makes them skillful is using those same elements and churning out something different.

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