Category Archives: Book love

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?

*****

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.

Advertisements

5 ways to become a book lover #NationalBookLoversDay

You have a bunch of friends – all avid readers. Bibliophiles, they call themselves. Bookworms is what you think of them as. It gets to you the way they are always talking about books. They rave about Harry, drool over Darcy and laugh at Bertie Wooster. They rant when Chetan Bhagat judges a reality show and cry when Harper Lee passes away. Even as you are comforting, smiling or simply looking on in perplexity, you wish, fervently, to be a part of it all.

The thing is they’re readers and you’re so not.

Oh you do love a good story but ‘Where’s the time?’ you ask, and ‘Who has the patience?’ There are always things to be done, deadlines to be met, bosses to be pandered to, phone calls to make and chores to be completed. Then there are the books themselves – big and cumbersome. It’s a daunting task. Right?

Well, today is Book Lovers Day (aka National Book Lovers Day in the US) and here’s help for you if you want to become one. These five simple ideas might just help you join the club.

Read what you like

That’s the first rule of increasing your reading – Make it easy for yourself – you’re doing it for pleasure, right? Well don’t let it become a chore. No stomach for classics? Let them be. For now. Remember you’re in for the long haul. There’ll be time enough later. Pick a comic, a romance, a thriller, a short story anthology – whatever suits your fancy. Don’t be cowed down by book snobs, don’t go by what’s in and do not be embarrassed of your choices.

Read everywhere

Read at the doctor’s, read as you wait to pick your son from football class, read as you wait for the milk to boil, read on the bus, on the local, in the car. I’ll leave out ‘read in the loo’ in case my mum’s reading. But you know you can. Better than reading labels on bottles of moisturiser, I say. One’s got to keep oneself occupied after all.

Keep a book close by 

Make sure a book is always within easy reach – in your bag, in your top drawer, on the centre table of your living room. And never never leave the television remote on top of your book. You know what is most likely to happen, don’t you? Yeah you’ll pick up the remote to get to your book and will forget to let it go and before you know the television will be blaring and hours would have gone by, your reading time swallowed in one big time-leap. Remotes have a habit of doing that. Stash them away somewhere deep.

Never go ‘bookless’

Once you’ve finished a good book – make sure you have another one waiting. Reading is a habit that feeds on itself. You give yourself a gap and you begin to forget how much fun it is. Before you know it, months have gone by without you having read a thing.

Give technology a chance

If you put in Gone With the Wind in your holiday bag all you’ll end up with is a very painful shoulder. Go for a Kindle. It’s way easier to carry around specially while you’re travelling and want to carry more than one book. Give audio books a chance. It might not be reading but you’re still listening to a book. It might lead you to a real book one day.

That’s it. Vary your reading, mix up genres and keep at it. Once you strike a real friendship with books you’ll find joining in your friends’ book gossip is just the smallest of pleasures. Books will give you much more for they are friends, philosophers and guides all rolled in one enchanting mix.

Books and chai at a brand new cafe

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post, nor is the proprietor/owner a friend or even an acquaintance. This here is just the outpouring of a slightly smitten booklover.

One of my most enduring dreams has been to own/run a book cafe. So when I hear of someone opening one I feel a wave of intense envy wash over me. There’s curiosity too. I want to see how close they are to my dream. More than once I’ve visited such places only to be disappointed. All I’ve found is overpriced coffee and one or two sad-looking racks of very predictable books titles, at least this side of town.

Which is why when I found a flyer for a book cafe tucked into my morning newspaper I was only mildly curious. One Saturday, after dropping the kids off for a session at school, my friend and I made our way to check it out since it was a mere five minute drive away.

The shop/cafe/library was still opening when we arrived and books were being carried out by the armloads onto long tables. Little bird hangers swung down at us at the entrance and a sign cheerfully proclaimed ‘Kitabi Chai’.

As we stepped in my only thought was – Damn, she stole my dream! Stupidly enough I realised I’d spoken out aloud right before the owner/proprietor, Geetika Anand. Perhaps she was used to it because all she said was, ‘You can come here and enjoy the books anytime’. We chatted for a while speaking about the trials she was facing as well as the appreciation she had received since the inception of the cafe. It was unbelievable that the place had been around for a good six months and I hadn’t known about it.

The shelves were full of books, obviously! Agatha Christie rubbed shoulders with PG Wodehouse, Coelho had his own cosy nook as did Sidney Sheldon, along with others like Markus Zusak, Paula Hawkins and everyone else we could think of. Archie and Tintin and even Tinkle found a place in this eclectic mix.


What thrilled me the most was that were a host of brand new releases, something my current library lacked. I thumbed through Balli Kaur Jaswal’s Erotic Stories (which has been recommended by every single person who has read it) and looked at it with such longing, rueing my no-book-buying pledge more than ever, that my friend bought it! And now I await my turn to borrow it :-).

One corner housed a tiny cafe. The top item on their Specials of the Day was Elaichi Chai and I would have been completely sold over, had I not been already!

My friend and I ogled and laughed (a bit too much), we read through the bookish posters and quotes on the walls, we fell in love with the quirky odds and ends, we pointed out authors and gushed at the titles and finally settled down on the cushions to gush some more. I got her to pose for me too. We behaved like a bunch of bubbling, giddy-headed, infatuated teenagers suddenly confronted with their common crush.


There are low tables, comfy cushions and bean bags strewn around making the place warm, inviting and trendy all at once. Kitabi Chai is a cafe, book-exchange joint, library and bookstore all rolled into one. I’m so looking forward to the children’s exams to be over so I can go there and just hang.

Click here to read about another gorgeous bookstore, this one in Gurgaon.

Reading plan for 2019



Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

Hola people and welcome to this brand new year. Reading-wise 2018 was a good year for me. I got through 36 books and am pretty happy with that.

Normally I plan my reading meticulously but the end of 2018 was so chaotic on the home front that I was caught off guard without a reading plan. The thing to do then was to get my act together fast.

Very quickly then, here are the Challenges I’m taking up.

#ReadMyOwnDamnBooks Challenge

To be honest this was already a part of the plan formulating in my head for a long time even though I did not consciously give it voice. Taking a cue from that (the voice in my head) the first Challenge I pledge myself to this year, is the #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks Challenge. I desperately need to, and I will, focus on reading the books I already have, at least one, maybe two, of the three I hope to read each month. I really have just too many of them and it’s an absolute shame to have them all sitting there staring at me while I pretend to ignore them and continue on a buying spree.

Of course part of me is already protesting:
There are new books coming out everyday and they’re so interesting and everyone talks about them all the time, and social media is buzzing with them; the covers are so enticing and the blurbs are intriguing and they’re so inexpensive on the kindle…

But Shushhh! I tell that part of me, as I renew my pledge to make a dent in the TBR pile at home. That’s going to be the mainstay of my reading this year.

The Goodreads Challenge

Then there’s the Goodreads Challenge which I’ve faithfully taken up and completed for the past three years. I love the freedom it offers: one can set his/her own target, read any kind of book and also that one can revise it at any point in time. Though if one does revise it, it kind of defeats the whole purpose of the challenge. But hey! To each his own.

That said, it works well for me because it gives me a push without making me feel the pressure. That sounds oxymoromish but it works perfectly. Also, more importantly, it does not distract me from my primary goal of reading the books I already have. In fact it is right in line with it.

The Write Tribe Challenge

Lastly there’s the Write Tribe Reading Challenge that sounds deliciously interesting while seeming easy to take up. Since I’m already pledging to read 36 books, this one seems doable too and so I look forward to reaching the level of a ‘bookworm’ at WT. I’m hoping the one ‘luxury book’ I allow myself each month shall go towards this Challenge.

And now I feel guilty for implying that books I already have are ‘non-luxury’ which sounds like they’re unloved and that is not the case at all – they’re all books I’ve bought or have been been gifted, very lovingly. I still need to fit titles into the WT categories and I shall get to it soon enough. I shall certainly be sharing it all here with you guys and looking for recommendations too.

That’s it from me. I’d love to hear from you. What challenges are you taking up? Do you too have a pile of books waiting to be read?

#BookLover’sTag

BookLoversTag

That’s the latest bookmark my daughter made for me

Many of my book loving friends have taken up this tag and I couldn’t resist it either. Talking about books and comparing reading habits with other book lovers is fun, isn’t it? So here goes – my attempt to answer 13 questions on books and reading.

1.  Do you have a specific place for reading?

Nope. Somedays it’s the beanbag on the balcony, somedays my bed, somedays I curl up on the sofa in the living room. Sometimes, when I want to be around the children, I even make place for myself in their room among sketch pens and stuffed toys and other such mess. So just about any place is good.

2. Bookmark or some random piece of paper?

Bookmarks, generally. However with three readers in the house there is a constant struggle for them resulting in deep debates on which bookmark belongs to whom. For instance, if my daughter makes one and gives it to me – is it hers (because she made it) or mine (because she gave it away)? We still haven’t figured that one out. In desperate times I make do with old receipts or pamphlets or ends of teabags (the dry ends, okay!) or even a comb. One time I put the TV remote in my book and had the whole house looking frantically for it. That was fun, for me, not so much for the others, perhaps.

3. Do you eat or drink while reading?

Yup. Drink, for sure. Tea and books make for a perfect combination, isn’t it? I participated in the Write Tribe Contest on Tea and Books and won another book for this picture. That’s what I call a win-win situation :-).

Eat, not so much, unless you count snacks as eating, or chocolates, which I do. Occasionally, if the book is super gripping I might take it to lunch or dinner too. I do strongly recommend having munching material around while reading. Makes the whole experience much more fun.

4. Music or TV whilst reading?

Nothing. Ideally I like to read in silence. However since the children came along I can read with music, television, arguments, laughter, teasing, fighting… pretty much anything.

5. One book at a time or several?

One. However, if the book isn’t too engrossing I might wander off with another one and then come back to it.

6.  Do you prefer to read at home or elsewhere?

I do prefer to read at home but I’m not too particular. I’ve read at the dentist’s clinic (the wait is pretty long and the book helps take my mind away from what is to come later), on the steps of the clubhouse while the children are in an activity class or on a bench in the park.

7. Read out loud or silently?

Silently. Are there people who read aloud? Even if they’re reading for themselves? That would be odd, no?

8. Do you read ahead or skip pages?

Mostly, no. However some books are made for skipping lines/pages. Have you read The Hunchback of Notre Dame? The descriptions are mind bogglingly long and I mean pages and pages and pages of descriptions of the church on and on and on. I completely hopped, skipped and jumped through that. The story was beautiful though, sad and touching.

9. Break the spine or keep it like new?

Keep it like new as far as I can.

10. Do you write in books?

No way. But if I’m reading a book for a professional review I like to make points. Kindle is a blessing because I can highlight the bits I need to get back to.

11. What books are you reading now?

I am between books, so to say. I bought Shashi Tharoor’s An Era of Darkness (at just Rs 199 on the Kindle! Thrilled with that!) and am wondering if I should start with it. But then again I think it will make me just too angry/outraged. I recently read Lolita and that had me feeling sick for ages. So perhaps I should stick to something happier and keep this one for the vacations.

12. What is your childhood favourite book?

Like most people from my generation Enid Blyton ruled all the way. I loved her Faraway Tree series as also St Clare’s, Malory Towers best of all.

13. What is your all time favourite book?

I refuse to answer this one. It’s like the twins asking me who I love more. And perhaps only the recent ones will jump out of my memory which would be so very unfair to the ones I read earlier. So no, I won’t answer that question at all, thank you.

If you liked the tag and are a blogger, do take it up or else share your preferences with me in the comments.

Books and Memories

reading childhood

Books and reading formed a huge part of my childhood and for that I shall always be grateful. I had no clue then, that my stolen moments with this favourite hobby would one day offer me a second chance at a career.

To our extreme good fortune our father was friends with the owner of Universal , the biggest bookshop of the city back then. So we would get brand new books on loan, to be read and returned. I lost myself in those large glossy pages or the super glamorous pop-up books. I had one of Goldilocks that I haven’t been able to get over even now. Reading them once always left me wanting more. I didn’t want to let them go. I wanted to keep them with me forever.

Perhaps that’s where the itch to buy and own books was born.

Between our school and home lay the poshest market of the city with our dream bookstore. Hobby Corner. Nope, this wasn’t the one that belonged to our father’s friend but another one that sold books and then bought them back, at a small discount.

So some days (and I hope the children never ever read this bit) we’d sneak off the school bus mid-way, my sister and I, and we’d go to this book shop and indulge ourselves. Those days we didn’t have helpers in the bus to keep an eye on us so it must have been easier. Even so, this was a rare treat because we hardly ever had any money – even the two or three rupees that we would have had to pay up. Besides, there was also the issue of getting back home without the bus (for which we had a pass) and that also meant money for private transport. We managed it on some very lucky days and our parents never knew.

Long summer holidays were painful because with no access to the school library we were left bookless. Lending libraries were a dream in our city back then. Once we heard of one close by and I jumped and joined it only to find it was one of those that only stocked books on subjects like ‘meditation’ and ‘finding the true meaning of life’. I have nothing against all of that, but it most definitely wasn’t what my young teen self was looking for dreaming as it was of Heathcliff and Rhet Butler and the like.

I never did develop a taste for non-fiction.

In hindsight, I remain grateful for each of those childhood memories. Books and reading became that much more precious. Each time the Amazon delivery person knocks at my door even today, I get a happy thrill. While I constantly bemoan the lack of space in the house, I never want to part with my books, nor put them away in cartons, as the Husband once suggested. *Shudder*.

What are your earliest reading memories?

*************

Linking up with Amrita for #ThankfulThursdays.

Healthwealthbridge
And also with  with Tina’s Mommynificent for the Booknificent Link-Up
Booknificent-Thursdays

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

booksbyweight

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.