Are you up for a book ride?

I’m literally on a book ride this year. It’s keeping me busy and entertained. In the past few weeks I feel like I have known so many people and their stories. It’s as if hundreds of short stories are spiralling in my head. Reading can bring that creative kick to you in a strangely deep manner.

I have seen a grumpy Ove narrate his life in ‘A man called Ove‘. This story of an old man’s failed attempts of ending his life after he loses his love to an inevitable death subtly nudges us to look at life of an old and how his loneliness makes even lovable people and things around him invisible. This tale by Fredrik Backman cracks open the life of an ordinary man with an extraordinary humour.

After, I dived into African short stories with ‘An elegy for Easterly‘ by Patina Gappah. They were raw, unfiltered and great telling of life in Africa. The social, political and economic situations are narrated in a style that anyone could connect to. I had an urge to read authors from Africa and this was a great start.

When I was in India I’d picked a few books and Garry Kasparov’s ‘Deep Thinking‘ was one among them. I picked this out of curiosity to understand his emotions and his process of battle against a silicon chip that would eventually learn to master his game. It was a very detailed narration on his journey in playing chess against and with computers. I took a few weeks to finish reading this, but, I was delighted to see his positive remarks about Artificial Intelligence. This read leaves us with a note that we should stop being scared of losing our jobs to robots, instead, we must focus on how to adapt and work with them. Are you watching the digital thefts and breach of privacy in the news especially in the context of country elections?, but, I do think it’s beyond elections and AI is influencing every day of everybody’s life. This read convinces us that we are in the process and such glitches are bound to happen.

I am a big fan of Ashwin Sanghi. His writing is like an Indian Dan Brown to me. His ‘Keepers of the Kalachakra‘ was brilliant to stir up my curiosity around space and time with an Indian historical and mythological referencing. I wait for his book every year and the read never disappoints me.

Mark Mason is a great blogger. When I read about his book ‘The subtle art of not giving a F*ck‘ through another blogger, I knew I had to read this. It just set things right for my over analysing and victim feeling part of brain. I appreciate when someone comes by straight to the point without having to be politically correct or weigh their words more than required, and his writing style worked for me as if it were a screwdriver repairing my faulty brain.

A story of clones living their life to become donors, a possible future, left me questioning about ethics. ‘Never let me go‘ is my first of Kazuo Ishiguro’s work. It’s with lots of details creating a movie in your head as you read and maybe a reason why it feels slow, but, the impact it leaves is much deeper and far stronger.

I was recommended to read Soha Ali Khan’s ‘The Perils of being moderately famous‘ by my beloved kindle. I haven’t seen many of her films, but, I liked her performance in Rang de Basanti. I was beginning to wonder whether all the second generation actors who failed to make it big like their parents onscreen took to writing ? Twinkle Khanna and now Soha Ali Khan. I’m glad they did, they have such good flair for writing. Soha particularly mentions of her being moderately famous and I respect her even more for embracing it so gracefully and living her life.

I have begun to like reading short stories and essays and I bumped into Umesh Luthria’s ‘Coffee shorts: A story in every cup‘. What a delight reading this, I must say. It was the unusual witty twists and liners that I enjoyed the most.

Read a full length love story after a long time. Preeti Shenoy’s ‘Life is what you make it‘ is also an effort to break the stigmas around mental health issues. It was a quick read as if the author wanted to rush through chapters to reach the finish line. It felt as if it was tailored for readers who prefer limited words and bullet points. It had the context, but, didn’t have enough substance to hold through after putting it back in my bookcase.

I took to my friend B’s suggestion and have picked up Peter Allison’s ‘Whatever you do, don’t run‘. It brings me immense joy while reading his anecdotes on being a safari guide in Africa. Thanks to B, I got introduced to Peter Alison’s wonderful work – both, as a safari guide and a writer.

When I look back, this year has begun with good reads. What are you reading?

 

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Bookcase!

Our home in Bengaluru has a small burrow. This cellar has been my bedroom that I shared with my sister. Our room has hosted many things which have remained as memories tattooed in our mind. Before we were moved into this room it was used as a store room and you could imagine all the unwanted yet wanted. It’s a different story that the situation didn’t change much even after we moved.

There is an old iron trunk which I think was sent as a gift to my aunt for her wedding. The rusted piece holds bolts, nuts, screws, spanners of all sizes, a hammer, wires. I think our engineering drafters have gone in there too. My dad, he role plays a plumber, an electrician, an architect and what not. He uses his toolbox to fix any problems that comes around at home.

The summer heat in Bengaluru could crack open coconuts I believe. My mother found a place for coconuts and pumpkins in our beloved bedroom / store room. I’m sure she had hidden intentions in doing this. It placed an opportunity every morning for her to come down to pick up a coconut for cooking and she could use this reason to wake me up in her screechy voice. I remained like the pumpkin under my study table. I didn’t move an inch despite her extra efforts

At the end of our staircase was a bookcase. Just in case you’d trip down, you’d be swallowed by books. My uncle had a huge collection of books that he left behind and they were stacked up in this bookcase. He had a flair for reading up anything, so we had books from all genres. Some were what he bought and some were gifted to him by the author themselves. The shelves were keeping these books for many years.

There definitely is a beautiful feel when you hold a book, but, I’ve also adapted myself to reading from my kindle reader. It turns out that we don’t need a book case anymore. I miss our bookcase, but for books they’ve always remained. Some books I’ve read from last december to this june

We should all be feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Daring Greatly – Brene Brown

Life with no breaks – Nick Spalding

Every Day is a Holiday – George Mahood

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Black Vodka – Deborah Levy

Inner Engineering: A Yogi’s Guide to Joy – Sadhguru

Brick Lane – Monica Ali

Reading Ashwin Sanghi’s The Sialkot Saga now.

Life with Restarts

One week up since I gave yoga practice a good restart. I’m so glad I did it. For a month I kept talking about restarting fitness regime and got marido to place an order for yoga mats. However, I caught a bad flu around Christmas break and stayed in for almost 10 days with a blocked nose and hard coughs. Once I emerged out of the bed fit and well, I’ve kick started basic yoga-hybrid sessions for myself at home. I’m doing 30 minutes a day and 5 days a week to start with. In just over a week I sense my cells have begun to breathe better, well, at the least I want to believe so.

Another restart story. You know the feel of a device taking over your time. Its like you do exist in a garden, full of flowers and birds chirping around, but, all you get to see is a barren land with mud full of cracks. I’m not giving up on gadgets (phone & TV), but regularizing their usage. Been a month and half now and must say that it stays a priority until it gets into my DNA. Well, I don’t want to put my ‘kindle’ under my gadget list, because, he’s that friend who keeps me entertained, develops my curiosity and fills those blanks & spaces.

A note on books I’ve been reading:

Life with no break, by Nick Spalding. I’d just finished reading some serious books in the last month (To kill a mockingbird, Daring Greatly, We should all be Feminists). I was searching for a quirky and humorous book. I came across ‘Life, with no breaks’ which was written by the author in one sitting (30 hours). Nick is from southern England and he writes about himself in the first few pages. Such a striking coincidence and I was wondering if I’ve met this guy in the recent past. I was in Worthing (Southern England) a few days ago for my work and on my way back I met this cabbie who was driving me down to the train station. As I entered the cab I saw a paper stuck on his dashboard which read, ‘we could speak of many things other than just weather. I have interests in TV, science, books, movies, sports etc’. I found that as an honest and witty way to start short conversations with customers. I gave my appreciation for his innovative display and we engaged in a discussion on television shows and documentaries on discovery channel. I’m sure he isn’t Nick (or probably was he?), but somehow when I’m reading this book I’m able to put only that cabbie’s face as Nick. There isn’t anything new I’m learning from this book and more than a dozen times the author is just ranting, yet he feels like a friend.

Writing this post I remember my friend S. Many years ago we’d gotten into a discussion about the difference between how a man feels and how a woman feels while reading a book. He’d said, woman soak in a book and absorb stories and opinions in them like a sponge, while a man just reads them. I had disagreed and argued his perspective. Now, when I just take a look at my recent posts, I fairly agree I do soak and absorb.