Red Herring

She entered the park at her usual time. It was 4.30 PM. A time where the sun was less harsh and the kids were yet to fill the park with their pandemonium. There were the usual suspects present though. A couple who worked at a nearby office came here regularly to spend time with each other. She had grown quite fond of them. And then there was Sheela, a modern age mother, who wanted her kids to play in the fresh air before they were packed off to one activity or other. There was also a group of cooks and maids who had a daily gossip session around this time before they got loaded with work again, once their employers returned from work.

She spotted a new entrant in the park today. There was an old lady on a wheelchair, who was moved around the park by a 15 year old girl. She would talk to them once she got settled on her regular bench. She loved to talk to strangers and listen to their stories. They fascinated more than books. Not that she loved books any less. Stories were her world. Whether in her books or outside of them. Maybe because God had forgotten to give her a story of her own!

With all this thoughts running in her mind, she approached her usual bench. From here she could see the entire park and their inhabitants. They were at a comfortable distance. She could observe them without making them seem intrusive. Her eyes glimpsed a red object on the bench. It was a picture of a gorgeous Red Herring over a white background. The contrast made the cover more attractive. The title of the book as well as the cover tempted her like a beautiful girl tempts a man. She couldn’t wait to take that book in her hands. Touch it, feel it, smell it (it did look brand new & she loved the smell of new books) She hesitated for a moment though. Looking for someone who looked like they might have kept their book here. Forgotten maybe. Suddenly she remembered an article she had read about an international book club. They were in town to place books for the book lovers. Playing Santa for the bibliophiles! She was ecstatic with joy! She sat on the bench, kept her purse aside and took the book in her hand. She caressed the spine and felt the cover with her soft hands. She smelled the book but it felt weird. It wasn’t the typical new book smell. Confused, she opened the book. As soon as she opened the book, a blast shook the whole park. People in the vicinity, including the old lady, flew in the air. When they reached the ground, they had turned into dead bodies.

She had died what she loved doing. Smelling new books. Sadly, she died without knowing it.

Books 2016

As far as reading books is concerned, 2016 has been a fabulous year!

I have read more than 75 books & it has only been possible because of e-books. I could easily read while travelling / on breaks / eating out & also during sleepless nights.

I have read some pretty interesting books during the year, which includes memoirs / autobiographies (a genre I am not very fond of), chick lits, young adults, Indian authors, graphic novels, etc etc! Phew!

The list of books includes all books by Jhumpa Lahiri, all books by John Greene, Harry Potter & the Cursed Child (most awaited book of the year), Shakespeare, Short stories by Tagore, O’ Henry & Chekhov, The Oleander girl, Mallory Towers series by Enid Blyton, Aristotle Dante & the secrets of the universe, Dying for Christmas. Some of them were fantastic, others not so much. Some of them surprised me a lot!

I was about to write on my top 10 books of 2016, but I realised I have read so many good books this year, picking only 10 out of them would do gross injustice to the books.

So here’s a very random list of the books I liked this year.

Autobiographies / Memoirs: Started with If you ask me by Betty White. It was quite boring. Betty talked mostly about her show Hot in Cleveland. Is everyone hanging out without me by Mindy Kaling was a pretty interesting read. Adventures of a curious character by Richard Feynman was surprising. I realised only midway that this was the scientist who was involved in the making of the Atom Bomb. Much amazed! Agatha Christie’s autobiography was also an interesting read as it included the time during the World War. Hyperbole & a half is also a sort of memoir albeit in a Graphical format. Interesting read.

Chicklits: Shopaholic to the rescue (Much improvement on the earlier book), Lipstick Jungle, The Nanny were all good to read, specially The Nanny. Ms Draupadi Kuru had an interesting concept, but could do with a better execution. The Oleander Girl & Mistress of Spices were best amongst the lot. I love Chitra Divakruni’s writing style. Simple, yet heart touching.

John Green: The Fault in our stars (tear jerker), An abundance of Katherines (reminded me about the one name I am obsessed with), Will Grayson, Will Grayson (I am so much in love with this book (also Tiny) that I can cry! And I know the exact moment I fell in love. Chapter 7th.), Paper Towns (Am sort of confused about the end), Looking for Alaska (another tear jerker)

Jhumpa Lahiri: Every time I picked up The Lowlands, something or the other kept me from reading it. I finally got all the books of Jhumpa Lahiri & reading them was such a joy! (Though she keeps repeating pattern of her characters). The Name Sake, The interpreter of maladies, The Unaccustomed Earth & specially the Lowlands (the twist in the tale will surprise you) are all must read.

A Thousand Splendid Suns & The Kite Runner: Both these books by Khaled Hosseini depict the turmoils of Afghanistan. Heart Warming & best reads of not only 2016 but of all times.

The Grapes of Wrath: This is a realistic novel based on the plight of poor farmers migrating to  California in search of work. The poverty and the resulting incidents are heart breaking.

The Marble Collector: This book is about a journey of a daughter discovering the truth about and real passion of her father. I love this book so much that it is in my top recommendations. Cecilia Ahern remains a favourite writer.

Forty Rules of Love: You can find more about this here: The Forty Rules of Love

Fantastic Beasts & Where to find them: This book made up for the disappointment that the Cursed Child book was. Very far removed from the Harry Potter era, interesting read nonetheless.

Lemony Snicket Series: AMAZING is the only word for it. This 13 part series can put you in depression so beware while reading.

American God: My introduction to the fabulousness of Neil Gaiman could not have been better. Salute to his imagination!

Room on the roof: This is written by a 17 year old Ruskin Bond. Kind of feels like the author’s own story but the maturity in his writing would amaze you.

The Clifton Chronicles: I had read the first couple of books in the Clifton Chronicles but then did not pursue the other parts for some reason. I ended my year by reading all 7 parts of the series at one go. It is typical Archer style, with politics and scheming villains and enterprising heroes and heroines. It felt like being dragged at one point of time and there was certain inconsistency, but I admire Archer for the way he keeps us hooked through out the 7 parts. The end was as it should have been.

Re-reads: I also read lots of books that I have already read. Taming of the Shrew, Comedy of Errors, Othello, Twelfth Man, Hamlet (Shakespeare – Always a joy), Short stories by Chekhov, O’Henry & Rabindranath Tagore (Beauty in simplicity), Jeeves Omnibus I & II (Wodehouse – always entertaining), The man in the Iron Mask by Alexander Dumas (A worthy follower to the Three Musketeers), Wise & Otherwise by Sudha Murthy (Strictly okay), Eat, Pray & Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (First time I read this, I was impressed. Second time I thought the author was too pretentious & I did not like the way she described India)

Forgettables: Dying for Christmas, Bengali folk Tales, Witches by Roald Dahl, Harry Potter and the Cursed child (Too disappointing except for the character of Scorpius), The Serpents Revenge by Sudha Murthy and Landline by Rainbow Rowell (Rowell is otherwise my favourite author)

Which books got their hooks into you in 2016?

My Favourite Novel

Recently I had an opportunity to write about my favourite novel. I skipped it. But it did make me think. If I had to choose only one, which would be it? If it includes my mother tongue, Peela rumaal ni gaanth would win hands down. This novel, in 3 parts, is written by Harkisan Mehta & has all the masala. Emotions, Drama, Thrill, Adventure, Romance, etc. This novel is based on the Thug practice prevalent in pre independence era. Though the thugs are super cruel, you feel a tinge of sympathy for them. If you know how to read Gujarati & you haven’t read it yet, I would recommend you read this for sure!

As far as English language is concerned, I am torn between Pride & Prejudice & Not a penny less, Not a penny more!

Pride & prejudice made me fall in love with Mr Darcy, England country side, Victorian Era & Jane Austen of course! It is a love story but not the rom com type. I can read this book n number of times without feeling bored!

Coming to Not a penny less, not a penny more! It is a wonderful creation of Jeffrey Archer. The way JA has woven the plot is simply amazing! And best is the twist in the tale at the end! This book was the start with my romance with all JA novels & short story collections! I love his style & he is my idol in that aspect!

When it comes to books & that too my favourite ones, I can go on & on & on about them. I should have sent this post as my contribution. Anyhoo, there always is next time 😉

 

Falling in love, one book at a time..

I fell in love with books when I was a little kid. I don’t know which was the first book I read. But I do know which ones I love more than others. Yes, I have favourites. They are not my kids after all but friends 😉 Friends who give me company in happiness & sadness, in sickness & health.

Some of my favorite books:

1. Pride & Prejudice: I am a fan of the Victorian Era & love books written in that period. This one is my most favourite. I have been in love with Elizabeth Bennet & Mr Darcy ever since I read this book. This is equivalent to a cup of coffee to me. 🙂 Another favorite from Jane Austen is Emma.

2. Autobiography of a Yogi: Usually am not a fan of autobiographies / biographies / Non Fiction. But this one captivated me. Such simplicity & such humility in one person which was so inspiring!

3. The Fountainhead: This has to be the cliched universal favourite. I love this book for the ideology it presents & also the character of Howard Roark. Also in my to read list is Atlas Shrugged. The start is awesome & gripping & I don’t want to read in bits & pieces. I need a mini vacation to read it from start to end.

4. Empress of Blandings: I am a huge huge fan of P G Wodehouse. I love his sarcasm on the ridiculous English customs of those time. However, this is his best work, according to me. Closely followed by the Mulliners.

5. Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less: This is the book which made me fall in love with Jeffrey Archer’s style. All his short storeis collection are second in the list.

6. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: This one was the toughest to select. Agatha Christie is another most favourite & I have loved almost all her books, specially Poirot ones. This however took the cake.

7. Shyamchi Aai: This is my most favourite book in Marathi. It has innocence, nostalgia & whole gamut of emotions. My most favorite thing is the beauty of Konkan area described in the book.

8. Peela Rumal Ni Gaath: A three book series by Harkisan Mehta is the most thrilling fiction in Gujrati. It depicts the era when Thugs were prevalent in India.

9. Shrikant: Out of all the books written by Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay, this one is my most favourite. I think this & Devdas, Charitraheen, etc had a similar base, where the hero was weak, needy & totally dependent on love from the women in his life. However, Shrikant has left more of a impact on me. Maybe because of Farooq Sheikh’s portrayal of the lead character.

10. Godaan: The best from the pen of Premchand, my most favourite author in Hindi language. Although it’s a tragic one, it is the most realistic representation of the pre independence era. This would make even the hardest of hearts to melt.

Hope you all enjoy these gems as much as I do 🙂