Monthly Archives: January 2017

On self-esteem #Teaser Tuesday – 2

Joining in with Teaser Tuesday which is hosted by Should Be Reading. This week I’m right on time and I’m picking two lines from my  current read An Unsuitable Boy by Karan Johar (With Poonam Saxena). All I’ll say for now, is that it is proving to be a very interesting read.

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For some reason, I was not motivated to do anything.
I was so caught up in my own head about being overweight and effeminate that I was resisting any interaction
with the outside world.

So says Karan Johar, director producer of the some of the most opulent and successful Indian commercial films. Watch out for the review.

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If you fancy joining in, here’s how…
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two teaser sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
• Share the title and author so other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

Are you a one-book-at-a-time person?

 

My kindle currently has two books open on it and another one stands half read on my bedside table. And that is quite strange. Strange, because I am a one-book-at-a-time person. If I like a book I immerse myself in it, I like being lost in it, I think about it even when I’m not reading it. If I don’t like it much I want to finish with it fast so I can go on to another one.

(Of course the sensible thing to do is to just leave that bad book and move on but that’s not quite me. An unfinished book preys on my mind. It nags me demanding closure, asking for its ‘The End’. But more on that later.)

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The point I’m trying to make is that I like to read one book at a time. It might have something to do with the fact that I mostly read fiction. Perhaps non-fiction readers can read more than one – absorbing and internalising and maybe even practising them – bit by bit while they read another one on the side.

I have a friend who simultaneously reads one book on fiction and another non-fiction. The latter keeps him company during the day – while he’s at breakfast or while travelling to and from work – and the former is his bed-time leisure read.

That works for him. It is perhaps the sign of a sane, balanced person.

However, that’s exactly what I am not, when I get a good book – sane and balanced. A good book erodes my sense of balance. A great book, does away with it completely. To me fiction most definitely needs to be read at one go – in one sitting if life permits. How else do you enter a world or a life, make it your own and love and laugh with the people in the book?

How can you jump from the company of three men in a boat on River Thames in London to Karan Johar’s Bollywood – those being my two current reads.

Nope – I have to put one of them on hold. I am most certainly a one-book-at-a-time person and happy being so.

Do you like to have more than one book on your bedside table?

A line from the boat #Teaser Tuesday – 1

My current read is an old old book, excerpts from which have been part of my childhood textbooks. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome is proving to be an absolute delight. I had somehow missed reading it all these years. In fact I haven’t read much of the author at all. But ever since I started this one I have been raving about it everywhere.

I stumbled upon the Teaser Tuesday meme at A House of Books and had to join in. It’s Wednesday I know but in some part of the world it still is Tuesday, so here I am with two sentences from the book :-). Take a look..

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It is not that I object to work, mind you; I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours. I love to keep it by me: the idea of getting rid of it nearly breaks my heart.

I can identify with that  :-).

Thoroughly enjoying this very straight-faced very British brand of humour.

If you want to know how Teaser Tuesday Works, here’s how:

download

If you fancy joining in, here’s how…
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two teaser sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
• Share the title and author so other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

Do share your current read and drop me a line in the comments. I’d love to visit.

Five things you need to be, to make use of a Books-by-Weight Sale

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Have you ever gone to a Book by Weight sale? I went to my very first one recently. Honestly, I used to find the idea appalling – I mean how insulting for books to be sold by weight, like old newspapers. But then the insatiable book lover kicked in and ‘What the heck!’ though I, as long as I was getting to pick up a load of books without going bankrupt that’s all that mattered.

So off I went and was completely blown away. I’d taken my son along and between us we packed away a carton full of them. It was like a book deluge – an entire room lined with tables from end to end sagging under the weight of gorgeous gorgeous books. There were books on the window sills and more books in cartons under the tables and all around the billing counter. Any self-respecting book lover would go crazy and I did too.

And yet there were friends who came away disappointed because they didn’t find books of their choice or because the books weren’t in a newly minted condition.

So here I am…

listing out preconditions for enjoying a books by weight (BBW) sale.

You should be a lover of books and a voracious reader

Well obviously! If you aren’t a voracious enough reader Amazon and Crossword will satisfy you. It’s only when you’re looking for much much more that you should head out to a BBW.

You should be a bit broke

Yeah BBW is about getting a LOT of books CHEAP. If either of those two things aren’t a criteria for you, you don’t need to go there.

You should be an adventurous reader

If you go to a BBW looking for specific authors or specific books, chances are you’ll be disappointed. You might get lucky of course and find exactly what you’re looking for OR you just might see ‘your’ books in someone else’s shopping bag or not there at all. The thing is you have to have an eclectic taste and be open to new, unknown authors to make full use of a BBW.

You should be a canny blurb reader

You should be able to gauge a book by its cover/blurb or maybe a quick cursory glance through the pages. There are just so many books and so many people jostling for them that that’s all you’ll have to make your pick.

You shouldn’t be finicky about the condition of books

This one’s pretty important. This is NOT a book exhibition. There will be some books in good condition and there’ll be some pre-used ones and others with yellowing pages and some others that may be dusty or musty. If you go by what’s in the pages rather than what’s on them, a BBW is for you. I have even picked out books from the kabadiwala so I was right at home.

So there – that’s it. If you’re all of those things head out to the sale. Don’t forget to carry some big sturdy bags with you unless of course you want to totter home with your precious pile spilling all around you.

The Girl With Seven Names – A review

The Girl With Seven Names – A North Korean Defector’s Story
by Hyeonseo Lee

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North Korea as a country has intrigued me for some time. I heard about books like Camp 15 but was apprehensive to take them up because I find them too disturbing. I couldn’t sleep for days after I read The Boy in Striped Pajamas.

The Girl With Seven Names is the story of a young girl Hyeonseo told in the first person and it proved just right. It is a simple read, fast paced and easy and gives a first hand description of life in North Korea without getting too grim.

The story

Interestingly, it isn’t a passion for freedom or poverty that pushes Hyeonseo to run away from her country. She comes from a relatively privileged family that has managed to stay on the right side of the regime for the longest time. She lives in a border town  on the banks of River Yalu with China just across it. In winters when the river froze over, all one had to do was avoid the border security guards of both countries and walk across it and one could be in a different country.

Hyeonseo love for adventure prompts her to take that walk. With a month to go for her 18th birthday she decides to secretly visit her uncle in China. Unfortunately her disappearance is discovered and she cannot come back. Leaving the country in North Korea is counted as defection and if caught, brings severe repercussions not just for the defector but also for his/her entire family.

The book then on traces her struggle to establish a legal identity and make a home for herself first in China and then in South Korea, living and travelling without an ID or a passport. Hyeonseo starts out as a rather naive, impulsive, headstrong girl. The book traces her growth into a smart and courageous woman as she struggles to find her feet and keep her family together.

What I loved about the book

North Korea sounds straight out of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. It is hard to imagine that this is not fiction nor from an era long gone. The book is set in the eighties and the nineties.

The leaders wield absolute power. The complete insulation of people from the outside world, the constant threat from the government, the constant worry of being informed upon by neighbours and teachers, the entire education system pandering to the government including changing the history of the country – All of this is hard to believe.

And yet how would anyone who isn’t exposed to any other way, even know that this wasn’t the only way? And so people accept it, get used to it and even miss it when they’re out of the country. Her mom and brother are reluctant to leave even when they have the option to do so.

Hyeonseo also talks of the challenges of settling down in a capitalist country which is  something I had never thought of. The book turned out to be a very enlightening read. It talks about the dangers of an all-powerful state.

Last thought: I’d say go for it.

The TBRs for 2017

This past week I’ve been in book paradise. I’ve sifted through book suggestions from  friends, read up booklists and blurbs and gone through Goodreads reviews to make up my TBR. I’ve stumbled across phenomenal reads – funny, suspenseful, thought-provoking, mushy – all kinds. I have been constantly amazed at the realms that the human minds can delve into, the worlds it can create, the stories it can spin.

Anyway, after much thought I have arrived at my TBR list based on last week’s Wishlist.

Here it is.

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Those are the books I aspire to read through the year. What do you think of the list?

For some genres I have more than one because I just couldn’t make up my mind. Some are by familiar authors so I have a fair idea what to expect and some will be a complete surprise.

I have favourites, of course. The Zookeeper’s Wife, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake as also The Hundred Foot Journey, The Red Notebook, The Siege at the Taj Hotel – can’t wait to get to those. Some are intriguing like The Egyptian since I’ve hardly read anything about life  during the times of the Pharaohs other than what I picked up in history class.

I know I’ve left out some good books but then the TBR list is not binding and I will add and subtract, along the way. I’ve missed out some genres too like Life in Space and Aliens as well as Spirituality as Sulekha pointed out. They’ll just have to wait.

A big thank you to Shantala, Lata , VinayVinithaTarang and Mithila for helping out with their suggestions. I shall always be grateful for the presence of friends and readers like you through my reading journey.

Even as I finalised the list I am done with my first book of the year – The Girl With Seven Names. Review coming up soon.

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I also managed to get in the BAR Wordy Wednesday prompts:

Aspire, Always, Anyway, Arrive

I know I know I should have done better with them but I was too taken up with the TBRs and didn’t want to let the prompts go. I hope to do them justice next week.

Do join in every Wednesday with the hashtag #BarWoWe on twitter.

Booked for 2017

Last year, for the very first time, I took up a reading challenge – to read 30 books over 365 days. That’s a little over two books a month. With all that goes on outside of books that’s all I could hope for.

I managed 32. That was heartening.

I am a rather disorganised person and I have grown to love Goodreads for the order it brings to my reading. With that support this year I intend to streamline my book adventure further and also bring in some diversity. There are plenty of reading challenges across the Web I know, but I need one that caters to my personal preferences.

The idea is to :

  • Include some genres I haven’t much delved into – short stories, translations, travelogues.
  • Challenge some prejudices – ‘I cannot read non-fiction’, ‘biographies are boring’.
  • Read fiction from countries that intrigue me – North Korea, China, Israel – I’d love to know more about them. I must also add Pakistan and Bangladesh – our neighbours – so like us and yet so distant.
  • Try something new, audio books, for instance.

None of this is binding of course. I hereby give myself complete liberty to dump a book mid-way if I don’t like it. Reading shouldn’t be hard work, right?

So here is the list I’ve drawn up

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I hope to be ready with my TBR within the week. I’d love for you guys to chip in with suggestions since some categories are completely new to me.

And now, totally awed and satisfied with how organised I’m being this year I shall head out to meet the day. Wish me luck!

Do share your reading plan. Do you have one? Are you following a challenge? If you don’t and if you aren’t, join me and we can read together.