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Showing posts from 2015

Make Me by Lee Child

Honestly, I don't know what the title means. Not that I am fixated on its inspiration or anything, but like the protagonist's quest into the origins of the name of the town of Mother's Rest, I can't figure out what it implies.

And there ends all my complaints with the story.

Jack Reacher scores again. With much more elegance and style. Or probably, the elegance comes in the prose style of Lee Child. Basically, Reacher is still the hulking, laconic, vagabond do-gooder. The only difference this time round is the way Child has made Reacher a bit more suave.

The plot tends away from a crime thriller - though, as always, it starts as one - and ends in an action thriller genre; but those acquainted with the Reacher series would have, by now, been accustomed to this deviation. Nevertheless, it continues to be a little  bit disconcerting when the solution does not tie up with the rest of the story. Barring the ending (or rather the oh-shit-this-is-the-answer moment), the rest…

Back to Maycomb !

Yes ! I started with Go Set a Watchman two days back ! My notes so far (I am a little less than halfway through):

1. There's no one cooler than Scout. Atticus maybe. But no one cusses like Scout.

2. Jem. Well, that hurt on page 13.

3. Jem, Scout and Dill as kids again. Oh the fun !

4. Aunt Alexandra. And her corsets.

5. Maycomb.

Nothing substantial has happened so far, which is OK by me. Reading about Maycomb is like going back to my childhood. Nothing beats that.

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

No. I never really got round to telling that I had finished this book. It happened weeks back, (even before The Good Doctor) and I've been putting off writing about it, because frankly, I'm still figuring out what it was.
This was my first Murakami. Rather than say that it was a good book, I would say it gave me a good feeling, like something born out of working hard. I have been reading up on what other people thought of the book (it's one of those times, when I really need to know if I know right), and its still vague. So I have my own interpretation, and it still needs to be worked upon, as there are facts that don't add up. Its like those 1000-piece puzzles of a landscape where even after you find the corner pieces, your work is about as hard as not starting at all. Right now, my understanding involves something akin to Hermione's Time-Turner, wormholes and Inception's limbo. 
In terms of the writing, it was so liquid that despite that excessive abstractne…

The Good Doctor by Damon Galgut

Well it's been some time. While my reading has been erratic (but adequate), my blogging has been reduced to a once-in-a-month do. But then who am I kidding ?! This isn't my first AWOL situation !

First things first. In the nooks and crannies of my choc-a-bloc weekdays and stuffed weekends, I managed to finish The Good Doctor by Damon Galgut. It's a short book and the economy of words justifies the taut story-telling of Galgut. Meaning, it should not have taken me a month to digest the book, but sadly, it did.
The Good Doctor is based in a lawless hinterland of South Africa where apathy is the best way to survive. In a slightly uncomfortable realisation, it becomes evident that indifference is not always the worst thing around. The incumbent doctor Frank Eloff and a handful of other doctors man a derelict hospital. Frank is already too careworn to bother about anything by the time he took position at the hospital, which is suddenly ruffled by the arrival of a young, boy-sco…

Book Haul ahoy !

It was a wonderful, refreshing break after a few months. We went off on a trip to Mahabaleshwar and it turned out to be only a tad short of heaven (nothing beats Kashmir). We were continually surrounded by fluffy clouds, that kept rushing up at us and leaving our hair and clothes damp. Visibility could not have been more than 200 metres and with only my hoodie on, it was remarkably freshening. Naturally, reading wasn't exactly the topmost on my mind. It was good to be back on the hills. Sadly I'm now back, and before the grind could take over, my husband took me out to buy books (bless him !). We returned with a bag of tomatoes, a packet of flattened rice flakes and three books. 
Go Set A Watchman: Naturally, it had been on my list ever since The Guardian ran sneak previews of the book. I had been putting off for the simple reason that our shelves are bursting with unread and half-read books, but what the hell now !its never too early or late to buy books.
The Martian: I talked…

Top ten book-to-movies I still need to watch

I can never have enough time for both books and movies in a day. For obvious reasons (not obvious to me though), I am constantly having to categorise and prioritise my free time. Its hardly unimaginable thus, that when books get converted into movies, it gets quite difficult to keep pace with both. I am left with a shamefully long list of movies I have put off for the simple and highly pertinent reason that the book-version is yet to be touched. Thanks to the The Top Tuesday feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, I get to put a tentative number to my ignominy:
1. Pride and Prejudice: Well, yeah. I haven't read it yet. Please don't judge me. Yet.
2. Divergent series: I've had it up to here with YA novels. Most of them are actually nice, but I'm so done with having to nurse a bruised and battered heart every time. The only plus are the leading ladies, which make me feel utterly useless and super-inspired simultaneouly. 
3. Eat, Pray, Love: I like Julia Roberts and…

On a rainy day...

Back in my schooldays, we did not have rainy days, quite unlike most of my friends and colleagues now, who reminisce about rainy days like some long-lost treasure. It did rain pretty hard during monsoons, but being a dry area in general, the water would percolate quite fast, leaving the soil soggy and squelching. But I have recollections of beautiful moments spent on my bed or my study tables, hunched over a book, as it poured buckets outside...

The flickering flames: A heavy spell of rain inevitably meant a power outage. Back in those days, invertors weren't all that common, and we would have glass lanterns and candles lit up while I studied in its light ! Somehow, this always happened right before my Hindi exams, and I remember one particular evening, when the rain was lashing at our glass panes, while I was ploughing through a beautiful Premchand from my text book...

The crumpling pages: As the drizzle just commences when the sun is about to set, the first few, fat drops would p…

Reading Now - August 2015

Finally I have started on Murakami. Its been long overdue. So that day I picked Kafka on the Shore from Crosswords. I put my library services on hold and forbade my colleagues from tempting me into new books.

I've got to say its a funny sort of book, and I hope I do not offend anyone by saying that. The best time when I read it is in the early morning with my cup of tea, just before the rush of the day takes over; it lasts barely 20 minutes I guess, but its a good 20 minutes. I am only 100 pages in, and the plot is still all woolly to me, but somehow its quite captivating. Maybe it is the simplicity of the language. And then there are cats !
Besides cats, there are some excellent lines I came across and have earmarked the pages, but this one bit hard...
"I fumble around in the bushes, but all I touch are branches, hard and twisted like the hearts of bullied little animals"
Also, there is a marvellous description of a personal library, that simply lifts me off my feet. I …

Lockwood & Company: The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud

Read it. Just read it.  Despite his plots being aimed at the YA category, the books are amazingly appealing. I shall be honest upfront and let you know that I haven't read The Screaming Staircase, but I managed to lay my hands on this beauty and its been worth every penny I spent on it. 
The plot and its flow is pretty much along the same lines as all his books (I'm assuming Ptolemy's Gate and The Screaming Staircase are along similar lines as the other books): there is a mystery doing the rounds in a parallel London setting, which in this series is, is replete with ghosts, as numerous in variety and as well-studied as types of butterflies in the current day. The Detection Agencies (along the same lines as the Ghostbusters or the Supernatural duo of Sam and Dean) try to rid sites of the ghost infestation through their agents, who are predominantly kids and youngsters. Antony Lockwood's agency is a trio consisting of, besides himself, Lucy Carlyle and George Cubbins. T…

List#1 The Top Ten Authors I've Read The Most Books From

So I stumbled across this blog The Broke and the Bookish quite by chance (actually I was going through another brilliant blog Fourth Street Review, which led me to TBB). They have an interesting section for Top Tens, and this time it was The Top Ten Authors I've Read The Most Books From. I'm not sure if I can name ten, but let's see here...

Alistair MacLean: Give me a warm-hearted, yet cold-demeanoured, taciturn, multifaceted gentleman, who is also a juggler with words, and a plot set in a crippled ship in hostile waters or a ice-floe or on ragged mountains, and the only other thing I'll ask for is a cup of tea to read it with.

James Herriot: I love animals. Enough said. No, but really, Herriot is the reason I took Library as my preferred choice of 'activity' at school.

John le Carre: God, its depressing to read a le Carre. But its right up there with MacLean. There's something hypnotic about his work and there have been phases when I've read nothing but …

Speaking snark

When I'm by myself - that is when there's no one within earshot, I often read aloud dialogues from a novel. Its a bit tiring after a couple of pages, and I find myself concentrating more on the modulation bit rather than the story. And I always voice the good characters, or if there are none in the scene, the snarkiest ones. Needless to say, my level of snark is blunted by my daily rigours, though in my head, I make up all sorts of highly inflammatory responses that could have been employed in a given situation. Never saying them out loud has helped me being tolerable for human companionship. 
Nobody does snark better than Alistair MacLean. He is the king of snark. P.G. Wodehouse also dabbles in it, but the application is wrapped in such florid English, that it takes the snide to a whole new level of art. And then there are the modern antiheroes - the kind like Constantine; they are cynical and brooding and being impertinent is just a way of life. I'm yet to gather taste …

My favourite book-reading corners

I'm in a heady mood today and the weather is egging me on. Its been raining intermittently over the last week, and I've been dying to find the time to sit by the window, the rain lashing at it, while I sip my tea and turn the pages of the book at hand. Also, this weekend comes after numerous ones when both S and me have been extremely busy, so that relaxation seemed a distant luxury. Its nearing 6 in the evening now, the breeze is soothing and the sun is getting hazier behind the cottony grey clouds. I am thinking of all the nice little spots where I have managed to curl up and read, and then some more which I wish to come across eventually.
1. This is where I first dipped into the world of books; by the double-paned wooden windows was my single bed, where I lounged after school (back when additional tuition classes had not begun ruining my life). I remember reading my first Hardy Boys there there.To this day, the greenish, glittering beams of sunlight filtering through the f…

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Typically I've never been a recent-author person. I have survived (been overwhelmed rather) by writers gone by, with the exception of J.K. Rowling obviously, who, unfortunately, has dimmed everyone else's sheen who came after her. So, when my colleague expounded the benefits of keeping up with the times - particularly along the literary lines - I was forced to think of climbing out of my shell. So he lent me The Girl on the Train. This happened possibly a month back; it took me a couple of weeks to read the book, and my verdict is an uh-huh (or as Sheldon would put it as colon dash).

I'll say upfront what I didn't like about the book. It seemed too cinematic in its veins - right from the plot to the way it unfolded. While being cinematic is what draws me to a lot of books, The Girl on the Train also dabbles effusively into the deepest, scariest, ugliest parts of our minds, which caught my fancy in a macabre way. Somehow as the book was progressing - trying to keep the…

Of homeless men and heartbroken soldiers

I saw Mad Max today. I loved it, but S detested it ! We are still getting used to this difference in our tastes ! Either way, I felt that the movie had much to do with Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) than with Max (Tom Hardy) himself, but well, Tom Hardy is Tom Hardy. I was gaping at his scenes throughout. 
That reminded me of the first time I took him seriously. It was the BBC adaption of Stuart: A Life Backwards, which continues to be one of the few books that continue to haunt me. Thinking of Stuart, brought me to Birdsong. For both stories, the screen adaptations were very nearly as heart-breaking as the books themselves.
Stuart: A Life Backwards was a strange sort of book, dealing with the biography of a homeless man. Though the summary which I read before launching into the book, felt like it was another milking story, aimed at capitalising on the indifference of a man, but as I ploughed through the book, I found myself being drawn ino the life of a man much like any of us. …

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

Finally it is done. Don't get me wrong; I may sound unamused but I am happy having read the book. Well, not exactly thrilled maybe, but yeah, happy. 
I began reading Phantom in January. In coherence with my earlier trysts with classics, it took me quite a bit of patience to get through. In other words, it wasn't exactly breath-taking, but was interesting enough to tickle my imagination.

I will begin by telling you what I like about The Phantom. The Opera house in itself, is a marvel to read about (the origins of which is detailed in an appended newspaper report that Leroux referred to for his story); all the columns and boxes and dressing rooms and shaded corridors, the roofs with the statue of the Apollo... there was nothing flowery in their description, but the architecture set the mood of the mystery-in-catacombs. And then there were the supporting characters: the incredulous managers, the gossiping dancers, the haughty Madam Giry and the lovelorn Raoul - who created the p…

The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom

All thanks to My Life in Books, I heard of Mitch Albom. I love the way Jennine G. writes about the books she has been reading and more often than not, I find myself elongating my to-be read list based on her recommendations. The discovery of Albom was perhaps a long time coming, since S and some of his friends had already read his work. So this last weekend, while we were browsing through the airport bookstore and I saw The First Phone Call from Heaven, I proclaimed that this is an author to read about and S said that he already had ! He has Tuesdays with Morrie which has had glowing reviews, as I discovered later. I do feel a bit like an ignorant fool to have completely skipped over an author of this reputation. 
Anyway, it took me a week of hard reading to finish The First Phone Call from Heaven. And my first impression of the book, once I shut the covers, was that it resembled, in a garbled way, one of my favourite TV shows True Detective. I don't know how exactly to categoris…

... Sweet Return !

Ahoy there ! Its been long enough ! I have so missed scratching at this blog; but then both time and opportunity were in marked abeyance in the last month. It took a toll on my reading habits, and February was full of me making frenzied stabs at reading a few pages and abandoning them within the hour to attend to some other chore. 
Things are slowly getting back to the grind, and I have managed to sneak some time for my reading again. I cannot begin to tell how good that feels ! I am beginning to empathise with the agony of going cold turkey ! So, befitting a starving man at a buffet, I have reached out to anything within my grasp, which at this point in time, is a lot. So in addition to my existing work-in-progress, I have also picked up Eragon. I am actually glad that I did away with the reading challenges every month, because this pile of books will take some considerable time and patience, given that they all belong to widely disparate genres. But its a great feeling nonetheless …

Reading List - February (or is it ?)

I love February. It was nearly three years ago,a round this time, I remember venturing for the MyLibrary facility of British Council. I had first come across this concept of home-delivered library books, at the interval of some movie I had been watching at PVR. My mother had been a member of the British Council in her days, and secretly, I so wanted to be a part of it too, though why, I cannot say.  So I gathered some pluck, and asked for a membership in February. And boy oh boy ! Am I pleased ! I got my first two two books from the library - Brilliant Careers - The Virago Book of 20th Century Fiction and The Bottom Line: Business Finance - Your Questions Answered.  I ended up reading neither. I don't think I even touched the second one. It took me some time to navigate my way through their wonderful stock of books and figure out where to go to with regard to my interest.
These last few months however, what with this thing and that, my dependence on British Council has bated a bi…

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

The first time I had read Kidnapped was the abridged Ladybird version at my school library. Those books were most beautifully illustrated and one particular illustration caught my attention and has held me still - a startled young man at the edge of a stair-step which ended in the open air, illuminated by a flash of lightning. I had pretty much decided then that I would read the whole book someday. A little over a decade later, I have fulfilled my promise ! And besides the vanity, I am genuinely glad to have read the full book, though even the abridged one had failed to dampen the high-octane spirit of the story. 
The title is a bit of a giveaway for the first part of the book, though soon, the story takes the form of a cat-and-mouse game, albeit dated three centuries ago. The first part of the book covers the origin of the travails - the kidnapping, to be precise, and the settings shift on a ship. Through a turn of events, David Balfour - the protagonist - finds himself side-by-side…

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

I follow Neil Gaiman on Twitter, though I had read only one book of his (Coraline) that my best friend had gifted me on my last birthday. I am quite ashamed to say that my first acquaintance with his work was through an episode of Doctor Who - The Doctor's Wife, that he had scripted, and to this day , it remains one of my most favourite, poignant episodes of the show. All I knew from the veritable literature and almost frenetic online admiration, was that this was a writer with some fairly impactful body of work to follow. Last weekend, I was at the bookstore, and despite the bulky backlog of books and work on hand, I ended up buying The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Having finished it a couple of days back, I am the wiser to have given in to my impulse then.

Like Coraline, The Ocean at the End of the Lane was difficult for me to categorise. This was fantasy, but the writing did not suggest it. Not even remotely. The story is narrated through the eyes of a seven-year old, mild-m…

Reading List - January

All hail 2015 ! Its been 11 days since the dawn of  the new year and I am already feeling a bit stupid for making the observation so late. Staying ahead of time or even keeping pace with it has never been my forte. That aside, it seems like a bright time, and my books have been keeping me good company, so I shall not judge or grumble yet. I've already begun on my January targets, and this is how it looks:
1. South! by Sir Ernest Shackleton: Ever since I read Shackleton's Way (it was given to us as a course material during my post-graduation; I never read it during my study years, but followed up a year later into my job), I was pretty curious about the details of the voyage. Shackleton's Way was a hugely instructive and quite inspiring work. So while I was browsing the Kindle bookstore, I saw this beauty, and penned by none other than Sir Shackleton himself ! There was no looking back. I have been at it since December though, and I must say its not as thrilling as Shacklet…

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

It was lovely. It looked simple, but it was also so much more. I finished Charlotte's Web a couple of weeks back and I couldn't believe that my eyes actually welled up a bit. (Its amusing how little things can help you deconstruct your true self !)

The story began with Wilbur the piglet -  who reminded me of Babe - and Fern, the kind, little girl who first saved Wilbur's life.  Wilbur moves from Fern's care to the Zuckerman farm and finds friends in the pragmatic sheep, the stammering geese, the cows, the horses and a sneaky rat. His best friend however, turns out to be a smart, grey spider by the name of Charlotte. The story then literally weaves its way through the highs and lows in the lives of Wilbur and Charlotte and ends in a strangely un-childish way. There are evident parallels to commonly encountered human characteristics and life in general, which, E.B. White would have us believe, is the same for all creatures. 
The light and observative story-telling style…