Monthly Archives: January 2016

How do you maintain your TBR list?

That’s a question I’ve started thinking about only recently – How to maintain your ‘To Be Read List’. My reading has been haphazard and erratic to say the least. Sometimes I read book after book (like this month, for instance) and then I go bookless for long periods. When I want to start again I find myself lost.

I am not one for elaborate lists or excel sheets. I need to have some place that can be updated and accessed anywhere any time – when a friend suggests a read, when I stumble upon an interesting review on a blog or in the newspaper, a recommendation on Facebook, a book release… anywhere.

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The obvious choice then is the phone.

I’ve been on Goodreads for a while now but I’m trying to use it more effectively – specifically my ‘Want to Read’ shelf. For the times I have a sluggish Net connection I go to Evernote. That has helped.

I’m also a great hoarder of books. I buy and stock up books during online sales or if one catches my fancy while I’m shopping for something entirely different. I’ve caught myself going to Crossword/Landmark under the pretext of buying CDs or craft supplies or toys and stationery — stationery is another one of my weaknesses – gorgeous handmade paper and trendy copy books, staplers and pen holders… totally drool worthy!

But I shouldn’t digress.

Almost always I have a bunch of unread books stocked up but I never remember them when I need to find one to read. Then one day when I decide to sort my cupboard I stumble upon them. It’s not that I don’t like the surprise but I’d much rather have them in some order.

Now I have set aside a physical cupboard for books I haven’t read. These are often my immediate next reads.

This isn’t exactly rocket science and most of you would probably be doing it already. Or do you have a better way to do this?

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Linking to Mel’s #Microblog Mondays where we’re talking about bibiliotherapists – a fantastic concept specially for book lovers. If you don’t know what they are go look up Mel’s blogpost.

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Oleander Girl – A Review

Oleander Girl
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

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I began this Chitra Divakaruni book with a bit of an apprehension since the last one I read ‘One Amazing Thing’ didn’t quite meet my expectations yet some of the others ‘The Palace of Illusions’ and ‘The Mistress of Spices’ are right up there in my list of all-time favourites. Happily enough, this one didn’t disappoint.

The Story

Oleander Girl is the story of Krorobi an – eighteen year old Calcutta girl. She lost her father before she was born while her mother died giving her birth. She is brought up by her grandparents (mother’s parents) and has led a protected life faraway in a boarding school in the hills, coming home only for the holidays. She has no link to her parents, no memories, no pictures either. All she has is a half written letter from her mother to her father that she found tucked away in a book. Even as she yearns for a love like her parents’, she stands at the brink of an exciting new life readying to marry Rajat. Rajat comes  from a high profile family that deals in art and artefacts. Soon after her engagement her grandfather passes away and she discovers a secret that sets her off on a journey across post 9/11 America. At time depressing, at times frustrating, the journey gets her a friend and much more.

What I liked

Oleander Girl is a quintessential Chitra Bannerjee story with all ingredients typical of her books. The Kolkata charm is there in abundant glory – the quaint traditions as well as the high life. No one can do it quite like her. I loved the way she brings together Kororbi, a quiet yet feisty girl, from a traditional Bengali background and the dashing young man Rajat, from a nouveau riche family.

I liked the way the book is written – from multiple points of views – so you get an insight into the minds of most of the major characters. That is what makes them relatable.

Talking of characters – I loved them  – Korobi and Rajat, Sarojini, Piya, Asif, Jayashri . Oh I loved them all. Divakaruni crafts them with much care making them at once believable and loveable. Each of them has a story, a background. Each of them comes with their weaknesses and ghosts of their past. It is fascinating to read how their past experiences mould their present actions and reactions.

There are plots and sub plots, stories within stories. It isn’t a fast paced thriller but it moves at a steady pace and keeps you hooked to the end.

What I didn’t like:

This is a complaint I have against a lot of Indian authors, even films – the endings are often hurried and/or disappointing. Oleander Girl too had a bit of a rushed ending. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I love happy endings. Yet the rational part of me objected to the way everything fell into place at the end – a trifle too quickly and much too neatly. I don’t want to put in any spoilers so I’ll hold back why I felt that way. You’ll just have to read and tell me if you agree.

 

I hate to reduce a book to a three-star or a five star because books are so relative and come with so many different elements. However I give this one a 3.5 only because it’s done by Divakaruni and I’ve read so much better from her. By anyone else it would have got a 4.5. I hope that makes sense.

If you’ve read it I’d love to hear from you and if you haven’t I recommend you do pick it up.

Z is for Zoya Singh Solanki

Though Z is the last letter of the alphabet this is the first post I wrote for this series only because I completely love Zoya Singh Solanki.

It was love at first read. If you haven’t bumped into her go pick up a copy of The Zoya Factor by Anuja Singh Chauhan – one of the best ever chicklits I’ve read. If you’re a self-respecting, cricketer loving Indian girl, I guarantee you’ll love the book and of course Zoya. Even if you’re not, you might find yourself laughing out loud as you read this one. I know because I did.

Zoya works for an advertising agency and the general consensus about her appearance is that she’s ‘cute’.  She’s got a mane of curly black hair down to her back and that’s about the only redeeming factor of her appearance, according to her self-critical eye. However it’s the ‘cuteness’ that stands out. Her boss puts is pretty succinctly when he says, “Looking at your cheeks makes my thumb and index finger sort of spasm – I want to squeeze em and squeeze em and squeeze em till they pop.” Her brother has nicknamed her ‘gaalu’ (loosely meaning ‘cheeks’)

You get the picture?

She’s not too happy with this description though, as she says, “it’s okay when you’re a moppet in red corduroy dungarees…. Not so good when you’re a working woman… twenty-seven years old to boot”. People should be more interested in squeezing your butt by then, she feels.

Zoya was born on 25th June 1983 at the exact time that India lifted the cricket world cup. Whenever she backs a cricket team it always wins, always – or so it’s widely believed. It’s time for next world cup. The media is going wild promoting her as the team’s lucky mascot and the Indian Board for Cricket insists she accompany the team to Australia for the matches but the captain of the Indian team doesn’t quite like the idea. And that’s where the fun begins.

I love her because..

  • She’s the cutest, funniest most down to earth heroine with a bundle of imperfections that make her ever more endearing. She obsesses about being cool, moreso because she lives in the most uncool part of Delhi – Karol Bagh and she loves it too.
  • She thinks in Hinglsih.
  • She is movie-star hungry. Her heart beats for SRK (Just like mine) and she’s not beyond enjoying a glimpse of his ‘toasty brown midriff’.
  • She doesn’t notice cars. The best description she can come up with is (it was silver-coloured and longish-looking. That’s me! me! me!) And this was what she thought was SRK’s car.
  • She doesn’t know much about cricket but does notice that the captain has a ‘cute butt’.
  • She’s a self-confessed fireworks freak – a result of firework boom on her birthday since India won the World Cup.

She’s totally adorable. I wish someone would hurry up and put her in a film.

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Linking up to ABC Wednesday for the letter Z.

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Yertle the Turtle

Do you know Yertle the Turtle? That self-centred turtle who made his throne out of his fellowmen.. err fellow turtles?

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If you don’t, well here’s his story:

Yertle was the king of turtles, king of all he could see. One day he decided that from his seat on a stone he couldn’t see too much hence his kingdom was too small. So he ordered nine turtles to stack up one on top of the other. He would sit on them and look further and so make his kingdom grow.

Of course he wouldn’t be satisfied with that and so more turtles were ordered to stack up to raise him higher and higher. Finally, the turtle right at the bottom of the pile , poor little Mac, complained of the load. But Yertle didn’t care. He saw the moon and ranted at it because it was higher then him. Then tired Mac gave one little burp and the turtles all come crashing down along with King Yertle.

The author

If you haven’t guessed already by the quirky name, that poem-story is done by the famous Theodor Geisel. What? Don’t know him? You may know him as Dr Seuss (who, for the record, wasn’t a doctor at all!).

Our man Yertle

So what do you think of Yertle the Turtle? A nasty piece of work, he was, wasn’t he? Seuss confessed he was a take on Hitler.

He didn’t care for anyone or anything save for expanding his kingdom. So drunk is he with his power, so focussed on what he wanted that he lost all rationality. he couldn’t even perceive a threat to his power.

And he was a fascist. He wouldn’t stand even a tiny bit of dissent, just like Hitler. Mac wasn’t even allowed a small tiny sigh. After all he was just a ‘part of his throne’. When he dares to complain here’s what he is told

“SILENCE!” the King of the Turtles barked back.
“I’m king, and you’re only a turtle named Mack.”

Yertle is absolutely full of himself. Sample this:

I’m Yertle the Turtle! Oh, marvelous me!
For I am the ruler of all that I see!”
And all through the morning, he sat up there high
Saying over and over, “A great king am I!”

You can listen to the full poem here .

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Linking up to ABC Wednesday for the letter Y.

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