Mission ‘Read 100 Books’ Accomplished

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‘Books are a uniquely portable magic’ – Stephen King

30th December, 2015: I’d created a resolution for myself on the same day, last year, to complete at least 100 books in 2016. To be honest, I’d never imagined I would complete this task. With my work and everything going on, it was highly doubtful.

But, I surprised myself; by mid-year I’d resolved to complete as many books as I could and try and finish the Hercules task. Mercifully, reading for me is a habit more than anything and finishing the books turned out to be a cake walk (or not).

30th December, 2016: Today, I’m pretty proud of myself to have completed the resolution I made (for once I actually completed a resolution). Hence, I thought to dedicate this post to give you a consolidated list of 15 books that I read and liked this year. I would be giving my reviews on the following books in the coming posts. I haven’t included all the 100 books in the list, though if you really do want me to give you the entire list, feel free to leave a comment / email, I’ll be happy to share the same!

*The books are not given in any preference order / list

  1. Kafka On The Shore – Haruki Murakami
  2. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami
  3. The Cursed Child – J.K.Rowling & Jack Thorne
  4. Pottormore Presents (3 short stories books) – J.K.Rowling
  5. Mrs. Funnybones – Twinkle Khanna
  6. Indian Tales – Rudyard Kipling
  7. The Twentieth Wife – Indu Sundaresan
  8. The Feast Of Roses – Indu Sundaresan
  9. The Serpent’s Revenge (Unusual Tales from the Mahabharat) – Sudha Murthy
  10. My Gita – Devdutt Pattanaik
  11. The Pregnant King – Devdutt Pattanaik
  12. Rise Of Kali – Anand Neelakantan
  13. The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime – Mark Haddon
  14. Mom & Me & Mom – Maya Angelou
  15. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Have you read any of these books? Also, what is your resolution for the coming year?

Eager to hear your story!

The Diary of a Young Girl

 

 

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To break the unintentional long break between my posts, I’m finally writing about one of my favourite books – The diary of a young girl, by Anne Frank. The narration is in a diary format and is an endearing real life account of a young Jewish girl – Anne Frank, while she was in hiding during World War II. The author is Anne herself, who recounts her own experience and lessons of life through her diary (who she addresses by the name ‘Kitty’). Anne started writing her diary when she was 13 and continued to record her life up until two years, till her capture by the Nazis and her unfortunate death, later.

Ironically, I read this book when I myself was in my early teens, and hence found it a little overwhelming at the time. There were times when I used to take long breaks while reading the book, just to sit and think what a girl of almost my age had suffered, along with thousands of people (or more). In the beginning, I found the book a bit depressing, but with time and maturity, I realised the book is anything but that! It’s beautiful in terrifying ways and impossibly truthful. But what surprised me the most, and still does, is the amount of maturity, intelligence and love this little girl had for everything around her! Yes, she was a girl with her cribbing and qualms, but with dreams, hopes, love and happiness even in the situation she was in!

The Yays: 

1. The stark truth in the writing

The writing seeps with deep knowledge and truth about her situation. Anne knows that she and her family are in grave danger and can be imprisoned (or worse) any minute. Nowhere in the book it seems that Anne is glossing over the gory or the seriousness of her situation. But, in spite of all of that, it wonders me how she manages to keep the hope and dreams in her alive, through her writing.

2. The contradictions

There are all the contradictions in this book – war and peace, love and hate, light and dark, everything and nothing, generosity and greed, aggression and diffidence. And the best part about these contradictions is, that they blend in perfectly. Each contradiction makes sense, each situation relates to the emotions evoking in Anne or her inmates and her family.

3. Self-realisation

One thing this book makes you question of who you really are inside. To dig deep and see yourself clearly. It makes you face uncomfortable truths about yourself that you may or may not be ready to accept.

4. Social-historical context

The book is rich with its social and historical context. Its a great contribution to world literature that brings home the excesses of the Nazi regime. The fact that this book was not written to be published, adds to its credibility. This truthful depiction of the social circumstances during the World War II, shows the situation of the people – both Jews and other wise, during the war. The descriptions and emotions are so vivid that you can actually envisage her life through your eyes.

The Nays:

Though I did not want to write about the Nays, but being unbiased, I have given a brief of what is to not look forward to in the book.

1. The linking of situations

Sometimes in the book, the linking of different situations is not handled very well. Some characters and relationships are not properly understood. But, in Anne’s defence – it’s a diary, not a novel, the gaps in the middle are but obvious.

2. The abruptness of the excerpts

Yes, I know its a diary and its bound to be abrupt. But sometimes you wish the excerpt would be more detailing or less descriptive but instead ends abruptly, or at times even concentrates on aspects that may not be that detailing or relevant. (Read: Then again, its a diary. It records real life situations not fictional circumstances.)

This book-diary is surely worth reading. Specially for teenagers, and people suffering from depression – this book will help you to hope again. It makes you appreciate life even more, makes you love yourself and the people around you. But most importantly, it makes you want to feel happy and dream again!

In the end, I would like to end it off with one of Anne Frank’s quotes from her diary – “Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy!”

Do read the book and share your views with me!

Asura – Tale of the Vanquished

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This feisty and unorthodox book by Anand Neelakantan is breaking all kinds of stereotypes for the famous epic – The Ramayan. A courageous tale, depicting the story through the two protagonists – Ravan and Bhadra. This book is a fresh insight challenging the reader to move beyond the regular notion and take a new perspective. The story line is exactly how it is in the original Ramayan, but from a different perspective, from the point of view of Ravan – a typical rags to riches ruler and Bhadra – a poor common man expecting a lot from the world and the King.

The Yays:

1. Humanizing the characters

Taking a unique perspective on the epic and instead of making it a battle between Asuras (Demons) and Devas (Gods), Anand has humanized the characters and made it a war between two normal humans with different thinking and cultures (Yes, there is no Ravan with 10 heads, instead a Ravan with 10 thinking principles or ideologies, neat eh?). Kudos to Anand for making the transition of God/Demon to human so smooth.

2. Strong women characters

I won’t give spoilers, but the portrayal of the female characters in the book is unconventional. The women in the book have been given extremely equal and important roles and depictions.

3. Breaking stereotypes

The author has not sketched the characters or the story in black or white, there are shades of grey which gives the story more depth and gives the characters various moods, expressions and sides to their respective personalities. This book will question your stereotype and prejudices, if you’re ready to face them.

4. Character sketches

Each character in the book has some or the other relevance in the story. Each character has also been given a proper background and story with personality traits as well. The major ones being, Ravan (obviously) and Bhadra. Ram, Sita and other characters have also been given different (maybe audacious) traits.

5. The ending

The one thing to totally read the book is, it’s ending. There is no ‘walking into the sunset holding hands’ epilogue, but a poetry-prose type of ending. Beautiful, serene, peaceful and yes, heart wrenching. The last page, though is not sad but leaves you with one very strong and human feeling – hope. It almost had me in tears, well maybe not almost.

The Nays:

1. Descriptive

Even though, I’m one of those readers who loves descriptive, but for most of the readers (specially the novice ones), the novel does go a lot into details and becomes a little stretched in the middle because of it’s descriptiveness.

2. Ram and Sita

This book is about Ravan, agreed; but it would have been great if the relationship between Ram and Sita was explored a little more in detail. After all, they are the main protagonists in Ramayan.

3. Predictable

Although, we all know what happens, the book has certain aspects about Ravan’s life that we seldom know. But, after a point in the middle, the story becomes a little predictable and looses its pace, only catching it up afterwards.

All in all, one admires the knack of the author narrating and blending the known scriptures with his own imagination. I know this is work of fiction (no thanks to the disclaimer), but i can’t help relating it to how things are today, the current scenario.

This book is definitely worth a read, specially if you’re interested in mythological (?) epics!

Happy Reading!