Monthly Archives: September 2019

Before You’re Not Little Anymore #BookReview

Book: Before You’re Not Little Anymore
Author: Vinodini Parimi

There are a million things we want to teach our children, a million things we want them to know, to learn, to remember, specially when they are flying the nest. Is it even possible to put it all down in a book? How on earth do you condense the gyan you spout liberally throughout the day when your children are near you into just 26 short letters?

Also, how do you keep your letters personal while also making them universal? Vinodini Parimi manages to do that with moderate success.

Before You’re Not Little Any More is a collection of 26 letters from a mother to a son. 

Starting off with a letter on managing anger, the book goes on to touch upon topics like handling emotions, loneliness, friendships, infatuations as well as tougher topics like seeking happiness, the true value of trust and that of life.

What I loved

The book is divided into 26 chapters, each a letter on a single topic. The chapters are short, easy to read and digest.

The best thing about this book is that it comes straight from the heart – like a chat between a mother and a son, which is what it essentially is.

The author picks instances from her own life and uses them to pass on these valuable lessons. She talks about friends and relatives, perhaps some of them who are known to her son, which adds to the authenticity of the letters. Yet she doesn’t make the reader feel like an outsider perhaps because we’ve known similar people and can identify with the situations.

I specially loved the letter on friendship, probably because my own children are just entering the phase where friends are beginning to play larger roles in their likes and dislikes. She talks with amazing clarity on the importance of having boundaries with friends, or learning to appreciate different traits in different people rather than completely idolising a single person and trying to become him/her. She also talks about how friendships change and how it’s okay for you or your friend to move on. 

She includes some very practical tips too, simple things like keeping a pocket diary to avoid overwhelm and help one prioritise, or ideas to cheer oneself up should one feel sad and depressed. I would have loved more of these coping strategies.

What could have been better

I have already said that writing a book like this is a bit of mammoth task. And that’s where it falters. In its bid to pack in a lot, some lessons get lost in the telling. Some posts meander and overlap, though I do get that that is inevitable.

Last thought: One mustn’t attempt to read the book in a single sitting. These lessons are best read one at a time, slowly, over days, in order to fully appreciate each one. The book works better as a sort of ready reckoner. Each lesson will make sense at a particular juncture in life.

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of the book in return of an honest review.

Faces in the Crowd #BookBytes 16

I have come to realise that one of the best places to look for book recommendations is my children’s English textbooks. They curate excerpts from some of most wonderful reads. I have been doing it for the longest time actually – since my own school days. I’d read an excerpt and find it so engrossing that I’d go looking for the book.

That’s how I chanced upon The Little Prince. I first met this book when I was a tween and I remember being rather unimpressed, probably because I couldn’t get much of the hidden meaning between its pages. When I recently stumbled upon an excerpt again in the twins’ text book, I simply reached out for my phone and ordered it.

Reading it now, as an adult, I find it loaded with profound wisdom. Before I get lost in more nostalgia (something that’s happening very often these days), let me get to the passage I’m sharing today:

“…. What does that mean — tame?”
“It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. “It means to establish ties.” 
“To establish ties?” 
“Just that,” said the fox.
“To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world….” 

– The Little Prince By Antoine de Saint-Exupery

We’re just random people in the crowd till we form ties and then we become special and unique for each other. Making friends and forming relationships is as much an act of choice as it is that of fate. The ‘fox’ goes on to add that one needs patience and effort and understanding to build a friendship.

Do you agree? Do you think one needs to make an effort to form a friendship or do relationships happen because they are ‘meant to happen’?

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If you stumble upon a quote, a line (or two) or even a passage from a book that leaps out at you demanding to be shared join in with #BookBytes.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Share it on your blog and link back to this latest post.
  • Put in the logo (above) so it’s easy to spot.
  • Leave the link to your blogpost in the comments so I can drop by too.
  • Book Bytes goes live every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month. Do join in.

The next edition is scheduled for October 1st.

Chai and a book with a dash of nostalgia #WordsMatter

Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

It’s a wet wet day but I’m not complaining. I like this respite from the sun. Besides, when it rains, the balcony beckons, the tea tastes better and a book looks ever more inviting. Giving in to temptation, I drag out a bean bag, grab a cup of tea and pick up a book from my nightstand resolutely pushing away thoughts of unmade beds and messy rooms. Just this once, just one hour I promise myself as I settle down for a read.

‘What are you reading?’ did you ask? Here take a look.

Yeah, I recently started re-reading Gone with the Wind as part of a buddy-read.

I pick it up now running a hand over the plastic cover that has turned translucent with age. I imagine myself covering it lovingly, possessively (and numbering it too). It has been a long time since this book came to me, and I mean a really really long time.

As I open it to the first page I find a simple inscription from my aunt.

My aunt marked it is as a gift for my birthday even though it was some six months later.

Reading those well-loved lines brings a smile and a deluge of happy memories. Despite the rain around me it transports me to long hot summer days, of noisy coolers that blasted air along with occasional drops of water and the delicious smell of khus khus, and noisier cousins who played, fought, chatted all day.

Each vacation my aunt would come visiting along with my cousins. Before she left she would get us a gift. Each time she would ask, ‘Do you want a dress or a book?’. Each time, without fail, I’d say, ‘a book’.  And off we’d go to browse and buy.

Books were precious treasures back then. We read a lot yet owned a few unlike now when parents start building a library even before their child is born.

Gone with the Wind was the most expensive book I’d ever wanted. Our budget used to be somewhere around Rs 50 but this came at 60. I well remember standing in the bookstore staring at it, knowing it was beyond reach, too embarrassed to tell my aunt just how badly I wanted it, yet unable to tear myself away from it. And so I stood there, desperately wanting to wish away those ten rupees standing between me and my happiness.

I am not even sure my aunt noticed my dilemma. All she said was, ‘You want it? Okay.’ And just like that, in a heartbeat, the book was mine. I cannot even begin to describe what that meant to me. Not only did I get to read the book but I also got to own it! I went through it at breakneck speed, sitting up late into the nights. I strutted about school for days magnanimously lending it to everyone who asked for it.

As I leaf through the yellowed pages now, I notice a few are coming loose from the binding, some evil silverfish have dug in fine holes too. And yet, each page is more precious than the freshest, crispest, whitest pages I will find in any new edition. So no, I won’t be ordering a new one. I’ll sit down with tape and put the pages together, I’ll leave it out in the sun to get rid of the silverfish and I’ll read it multiple times. I’ll preserve it for as long as I can because, more than a book, it’s a cherished memory.

Do you have a book that evokes a special memory for you? A person who was instrumental in igniting a love for stories?

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I am participating in the #wordsmatter bloghop. I received this tag from teacher and writer Jyotsna Prabhakar who blogs at  Jonaatbest. I’m passing on the tag to the very artistic, very humorous Rajlakshmi at Destiny’s Child. Do follow the #WordsMatter Blog Hop for some interesting reads.

All for the Perfect Match #BookBytes 15

Hola folks and welcome to another edition of #BookBytes. I’ve been re-reading Gone With the Wind and what a nostalgic trip it is proving to be! I’ll probably need a whole series of posts to explain what I’m feeling as I go over the familiar words of Margaret Mitchell.

That’s where I picked my quote for this fortnight.

It gives an idea of what women endured during those times only to snare a man. They all did it, some gladly, others grudgingly.

In the passage here Scarlett is being forced to eat before she heads out for a barbecue so she wouldn’t have an appetite and could pick at her food delicately rather than exhibiting a healthy appetite, which was considered unladylike. It’s so bizarre, it’s comical.

“I wish to Heaven I was married,” she said resentfully as she attacked the yams with loathing. “I’m tired of everlastingly being unnatural and never doing anything I want to do. I’m tired of acting like I don’t eat more than a bird, and walking when I want to run and saying I feel faint after a waltz, when I could dance for two days and never get tired. I’m tired of saying, ‘How wonderful you are!’ to fool men who haven’t got one-half the sense I’ve got, and I’m tired of pretending I don’t know anything, so men can tell me things and feel important while they’re doing it… I can’t eat another bite.” 

Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind

My heart goes out to this 16-year-old Scarlett , bursting with verve and vigour, who has to constantly restrain herself to appear delicate and docile in order to be desirable. It’s another matter altogether that a few pages later she’s glad she’s not married and can preen with her bunch of beaux rather than being relegated to the sidelines. But then teenagers are allowed to be fickle.

Mercifully we’ve come a long way since this, and women are getting comfortable in their own skin. They are looking for their real selves and taking pride in them for where’s the point of losing yourself in order to find a husband?

More importantly, it is men who need to learn to be comfortable around smart women, to understand, love and respect them. And they’re getting there, albeit slowly.

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If you stumble upon a quote, a line (or two) or even a passage from a book that leaps out at you demanding to be shared join in with #BookBytes.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Share it on your blog and link back to this latest post.
  • Put in the logo (above) so it’s easy to spot.
  • Leave the link to your blogpost in the comments so I can drop by too.
  • Book Bytes goes live every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month. Do join in.

The next edition is scheduled for September 17th.