Category Archives: Famous books, Controversial books

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’?

***********

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.

Advertisements

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.

Have you heard of The Wind Done Gone?

The Wind Done Gone was a novel written by Alice Randall which tells the story of Gone With the Wind from the point of view of Cynara, Scarlett O’hara’s half sister, Mammy’s daughter. She’s a slave too. The names of all major characters, other than Mammy, have been changed. Tara becomes Tata, Scarlett becomes Other, her father, Gerald O Hara becomes Planter, her mom becomes Lady and Ashley becomes The Dreamy Gentleman. Like Scarlett she also falls in love with ‘R’ and after he leaves her, Cynara becomes his mistress.

We all know what happened after the book was published. Margaret Mitchell’s estate sued the author and after much litigation a settlement was reached. The book was branded a ‘parody’ and all but disappeared from public memory.

There are other spin offs to Gone With the Wind. There’s Rhett Butler’s People, which traces Rhett’s journey and there’s Scarlett, the official sequel to the book. None of them could come close to Gone With the Wind.

While spin offs, sequels and series have almost become a norm, I haven’t come across many novels that have tried to tackle a story from a different perspective. Of course copyright issues might be a deterrent.

Some authors like Chitra Banerjee and Kavita Kane have explored other POVs in Indian epics and I’ve loved most of them.

I find different POVs fascinating. For instance, I’d love to read a book from the point of view of an upperclass wife in The Handmaid’s Tale. What did she feel as she watched her husband bed another woman? Did she, even for one small moment, feel a pang of sympathy for the Handmaid? Or did jealousy and insecurity chase away all other feelings?

I’d love to read Rebecca from Maxim’s point of view. The backstory leading up to her murder and then his encounter with the new Mrs de Winter would have been quite a roller-coaster.

So tell me, which popular book would you like to read from an alternate point of view?

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – A #Review

Book Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Author: Stephen Chbosky

I’d heard a lot about The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It was also the winner of the award for the Best Young Adult book for the year 2000. So it was with a great sense of anticipation that I picked it up, specially because I knew nothing of the story at all.

A coming of age book..

…of 15 year old Charlie. He is about to start High School but isn’t at all ready to jump into the crazy whirlpool that High School is. The recent suicide of his friend has left him traumatised. The passing away of his beloved aunt haunts him too. Painfully shy and a complete introvert Charlie enters school which begins on not a very happy note. However, soon enough, he befriends siblings Patrick and Sam and a whole new world opens up to him – a world of friends, dating and music as also of drugs and sex. The book talks about how Charlie manoeuvres himself through that first year at High School.

The book deals with a very wide range of issues ..

– suicide, PTSD, bullying, drugs, homosexuality, young sex, incest, abuse, rape – the entire gamut that plagues young people. It was published in the nineties, a time when these subjects weren’t as freely discussed as they now are. Which is perhaps why scores of teens identified with it. It isn’t tough to imagine that every youngster at that age is a little bit unsure and lost and struggles with one of more of these issues. That makes Charlie identifiable and his story relatable. It is definitely a brave book for its times. Some of its quotes went viral too. Remember this one?

We choose the love we think we deserve.

It is an epistolary novel ..

…where Charlie writes to an imaginary friend. That’s where the trouble started for me. Charlie’s voice just didn’t sound like that of a fifteen year old. He writes like a middle schooler, which would have been acceptable if he hadn’t also been an advanced English student, apparently much ahead of his peers and the favourite of his English teacher.

Also, his world view too seems that of an 8-year-old which was confusing. His knowledge about girls, boys, love, sex and drugs is so very rudimentary. Assuming he had a over-protected life at home, (which is tough, given that he has an older brother and sister), surely he has been around other children, peers and that should have given him some idea.

I wondered for bit if he was autistic going by the way he ‘reports’ events rather than writes about them, plus there’s his exceptional talent for English. Or perhaps he had Asperger’s going by his social ineptness. However, the fact remained unexplained. And that shall bug me forever.

While the teen issues never really lose relevance, there have been a number of coming-of-age books since this one (like Simon vs the Homosapein Agenda) that are much better, much more focussed in what they have to say.

Last thought: Don’t kill for it but do read it if it’s at your library.

Linking up with the Write Tribe Reading Challenge – This is my review for ‘A book that was a gift’. It came to me from my dear Secret Santa at the BAR Nibha Gupta.

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.

51jltl7jb9l-_sx315_bo1204203200_

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.

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!

Tweaking the tales

heart.jpgIf I had a wish to wish for me
I’d go on quite a wishing spree.
I’d ask to get into my favourite tales
Just to make sure they stick to the rails.
A little tweak here, a gentle twist there
And I’d save people from much despair.

When I’d see Romeo at Juliet’s grave
I’d jump right there in time for a save.
And “Thus with a kiss I die” as he says
And to his lips the poison raise,
Stop! Will you! She’s alive, I’d cry
There really is no need for you to die.

And when Darcy’s making his darned proposal
The one that earned Lizzy’s disapproval.
Tread here with plenty of care, I’d advise him
For goodness sake don’t be condescending.
Let your heart talk, the one that loves her
Lose your pride, that really bugs her.

When Scarlett is abandoned by Rhett all alone
I’d tell her he’d be back, he wasn’t all gone.
And while I’m there I’d give her a shake –
It’s him you love though he might be a rake.
Look carefully, will you open your eyes?
it was never Ashley, it’s Rhett who’s your prize .

Perhaps I’d drop by Jeeves for a chat
I’d tell him all my tales and hope for a pat.
He’d give his wise head a supercilious shake
Unimpressed he’d say, ‘That’s a piece of cake’.
Don’t want to spoil your congratulatory party
But I’ve been doing this for years for Bertie.

That’s true of course, his case he does rest,
As a setter-righter of things he’s the best.
All along this time that’s exactly what I’ve wished for
I want to be Jeeves to my favourite characters.

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

It’s Day 6 of the #BarAThon Challenge from 1st to 7th August 2016.
The prompt for today is ‘Wishful Thinking’.

I am with Team #CrimsonRush

BAR-A-THON

Also linking to  Mackenzie at Reflections from Me

Who is Mr X?

Beat About The Book

X is the letter of the week and I have a Quiz today.

Here are a few clues. Can you figure out who Mr X is? And also the book he appears in? (Just to clarify: His name does not begin with the letter X)

  1. Although the book is named after him, X’s name doesn’t appear in the title.
  2. X is the protagonist of a path-breaking novel first published privately in Florence, Italy in 1920.
  3. When it was published some 30 years later in Britain by Penguin Books, the publishers were persecuted under the Obscene Publications Act. They however came out winners on the grounds that the book was a work of ‘literary merit’.
  4. X works as a blacksmith till he runs off to join the war. Finally he ends up as a gamekeeper at a nobleman’s estate.
  5. The book talks of his affair with an upper-class woman.

 

Do leave your answers in the comments. I’ve enabled comment moderation. The answer will be up this Tuesday.

Edited to add: The character is Oliver Mellors from Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence. The book created quite a stir when it came out.
**********

Linking up to ABC Wednesday for the letter X. As always, grateful to Mrs Nesbitt for coming up with the idea for this wonderful meme.

abc 17 (1)