Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Fantasy reading...continued...

Continuing my fantasy reading… some stray thoughts , as usual ….

Writing a good fantasy must be more difficult than writing a literary fiction. In addition to having a good story and characters, you have to invent a whole new world ,  strange magical rules that govern the world and even stranger names for the characters. They also introduce the world and characters in such way that it seems totally natural and flows into the story seamlessly.

The name of the wind is doing that perfectly. I haven’t understood all the rules till now , but I still think I have. At least enough to say I am enjoying reading…

But it is intense and tiring as well , Kvothe gets into so many troubles , you feel the world is not fair or kind. Still, can't complain, especially when he or his listeners are not complaining .

This book is 50% done now and I think I will take another 2-3 days to finish it. I will probably need a lighter , happy book to help me through this book.

A unique thing about magic in this world is you are not born with any special abilities to learn it. Anybody who gets opportunity and is willing to pay and work hard can become a magician (arcanist as called in this book.)

I love the theme of music running through this book, it is as if I can hear it. It calls to me at an unexpected level. I wish Kvothe would become a musician rather than an arcanist.

A little hard to believe fact is Kvothe’s master of all personality. No one could be that gifted in my opinion. A first person narrator of any book starts looking like a braggart soon and Kvothe is no exception. I think I like third person narratives better , but then it is obviously not my choice to make…

As a break, have started on Ruth Hogan’s ‘The keeper of lost things’. This is advertised as the feel good book of 2017. Hope it makes me feel good too….

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Day 2 of reading.

Day 2 of reading.

I do a little research on the books I read. Actually just a little trivia about the book and the author. I find that Water for elephants was written during a NaNoWriMo. (National novel writing month) . That is exciting. NaNoWriMo produces a published, successful,likable and a saleable book. I also find that all Sara Gruen’s stories have animals and she is an animal activist , too. That is the example of how you can convert your love and passion into a vocation and I find it inspiring.

To come back to the story, our narrator Jacob, suddenly orphaned and clueless about his life, jumps onto a train which is actually a circus train. I love the idea of a person being able to do whatever he wishes to, start an adventure and abandon his entire prior life . I agree , that he doesn't do it by choice, but it is an adventure nevertheless.  On that note , I slept yesterday, thinking of circus thoughts. My eyes were tired, but brain was not.

The book was engrossing enough for me to finish today, without going to the ‘ Name of the wind’. I loved it while I was reading , but 30 minutes later, I find the ending a little too neat and contrived for my liking. Also, I don't like Marlena’s character very much, there is hardly any depth to her. The best character is that of Rosie, the elephant : intelligent, sassy, gin loving , polish speaking (understanding). Jacob is also good as a character . I will not presume that I can advise the author to improve on her creation but everybody need not be forced to live happily ever after . I cared more about the animals than the lovers and felt that Jacob’s bonding with the animals could have been depicted better.

So, that is that.

Tomorrow is a new day , a Sunday , a reading day… will keep posted about what I read ...

Friday, January 5, 2018

Reading diary : 1 ( 05-01-2018)

As a part of my 2018 reading plan, I go to my library. I return the last book, unread, even though it was interesting. I just don’t wish to read nonfiction now.

I would like to read more fantasy, even though I am reading only fantasy currently . A little historical or literary fiction also would do. I have seriously restricted myself ,so it seems. Fortunately my reading goals don’t state any such conditions of reading any particular genre.

I look at the fiction rack for a smallish book, though I have decided that I will read  ‘ A casual vacancy’ , ‘A little life ‘, ‘Thousand autumns of David de Zoet ‘ this year, but they are too huge.  ‘1Q84 ‘ is so daunting that the wish to read it will certainly remain only a wish for next decade. I am not sure about ‘Autumn’ ,though very much praised and loved on the booktube, doesn't look like my cup of tea.

So, I pick up ‘Water for elephants’ by Sara Gruen. I don't know much about it.The blurb is not revealing. It may be a historical fiction , it is certainly not a fantasy. I haven't heard much about it booktube,  it is not a recent release. But may be it is better to go into a book without knowing much about it.

Print is very fine. Though mostly coincidental, I have always loved books with very fine print , certainly because there was a lot of material for reading there.

The first page of the book is confusing. I don't know who is the narrator and what exactly is happening. Patiently I read on and I am rewarded. The narrator Jacob is a 90 or 93 year old veterinarian (he doesn’t exactly remember his age) and I love his wise and witty voice.

Though he is old, this book doesn't appear to be about old age, like some books on my TBR.(A man called Ove, The diary of Hendrik Groen,aged 83 ¾). The old age will be another topic for discussion, on another day. Today , I definitely plan to continue and finish this book.

The other book which I have started yesterday and which has me hooked so much so that, I immediately have bought the second part even before completing the first , is obviously a fantasy. ‘The name of the wind ‘ by Patrick Rothfuss. It is the story of Kvothe, though I still haven't understood what he is (I have read about 80 pages.) But the story appears to be a story within a story - Kvothe telling about himself to a chronicler and he will take 3 full days to do so. One book consisting of a day’s narrative, there are 3 books in total, third one still unpublished.We have started with current events in Kvothe's life where he pretends or tries to be an ordinary innkeeper and kills demons in his spare time. We have progressed to Kvothe telling about his childhood through a very engrossing narrative. The learning of magic, his mentor/teacher and the magic itself are quite wonderful. I love the idea of connectedness of all things that lies in the centre of this magic.

There ! I have said all that I wanted to for today...now let me go back to my books...More updates tomorrow..

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Longbourn : all the backstage action

Longbourn : all the backstage action

I started 2017 with Pride and Prejudice-movie,serial and book. In 2018, it was a sort of spinoff of P and P, too.

Longbourn by Jo Baker is reimagining of Pride and Prejudice from the servant’s perspective.

I find the idea fantastic, it is like watching a movie from a totally different angle. The characters from the original book make a fleeting appearance,only peripherally. This is not about them. Main characters of this book are the servants , the housekeeper cum cook, maids, second housemaid,the footman. It is their story.

This is a historical fiction but within the framework of an original, well loved novel. Each chapter starts with a quote from the book. The events from the book are mentioned. But main story is servants -their work- seemingly unending and joyless , their love stories, their characters , their interactions.

It begins with arrival of a new footman, James Smith. At first he is just one of the servants, an extra pair of hands,but then he gets involved in their lives. New threads emerge and old connections are discovered too.

This book shows the Victorian period from a totally different perspective - hard life of servants- full of manual labour of washing dirty clothes , emptying chamber pots , building fires , fetching water. Eliza Bennett's love for walking may not be admired as much if the efforts behind cleaning her muddy gowns is revealed. It seems that all that the gentlewoman do is look pretty , dance , fall in love and make babies and if there is still time then sew, play music or cards , paint or read. They don't have to do any kind of useful work.

It is an entertaining book written in a simple yet effective language. Story is not unique. The framework of the original book makes it interesting though. The book is divided in 4 volumes , third volume shows James’s story. Though a lovable character, I did not enjoy his story much.

I was also reminded of Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series where the characters can go and stay in books and play their parts. In between the written scenes, they can live their own life and do whatever they want to. However they can not change the original story.Only difference is they realise that it is only a book.

Characters of this book do not have this liberty. Like us , they have to play with the cards life has dealt them !

Buying books

Buying books

I am excited, the books by weight sale is coming back ...so I heard ! They are coming to Churchgate, which is manageable if not closeby.

I speak of my plans to go there next week . My colleague asks me , “ But have you finished the books you bought last time ?”

No, I haven't...in fact I haven't read even a single book ( may be just one...May Sarton’s A reckoning). And my son has read one… still I want to buy more ? Greed ?

I think over it and realise that I don't really buy books only for reading. I buy them to feel good, to surround myself by their comforting presence. The same reason as carrying a book with me at work , even though I do not get time to read it at all. Just as a support to get through the tedious day. I look at them and feel happy, they exist as possibilities in my home and in my mind. I buy them and then buy some more and even more. At the end of it , I read something entirely different. Probably they are my investment for old age , when I no longer earn but still need support of a good book to get through the day…. or life...

A little huge nest egg...nothing else !!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Reading goals :2018

Reading goals :2018

2017 was a resurrection of reader in me. I read total 90 books , mostly fiction. Most of that was fantasy and literary fiction. (I heard this apt description of literary fiction in a video yesterday : You have beautiful prose but may not have any plot, it maybe just 40 pages of description of  just a man walking in a nearby park !😊) I was also a compulsory buyer of books, buying more than reading.

This year I hope to discipline myself.I plan to buy less( not exceeding my monthly budget) , read more, read better and varied. I also plan to utilize the excellent library in my city.

So,broadly, my reading goals are : Read at least one book of the following

A literary fiction

A book that I have read halfway through and abandoned : I will give them at least a fair chance

A library book

A non fiction

A book from my non ebook collection

Hopefully, I will not read more than 6 books per month.

I also plan to cut short my book collection this year, I plan to get rid of all those books which I will never read or have read but not liked.

As a part of reading less I am planning to write more , I am planning to write on all books that I read.

What are your reading goals for 2018 ? Hope you all have a great reading year ahead...

Saturday, December 23, 2017

2017: Books

The year 2017 was very good in terms of reading and books for me. I have read at least half of the books that I have bought this year which is good but I have not been able to curb the impulse to buy more and more books. In short, I read more but I bought much more !

I acquired a kindle this year and since then I have been buying e books . Only physical books that I bought were second hand ones. I also bought several books by weight, Rs.100 per kg last month.

My reading preferences have changed suddenly and drastically this year. From a non fiction and mystery reader, I have become a fantasy and literary fiction person. I generally do not prefer to but this year I have reread a few books.

Last few months , from September onwards, I have been reading around 10-12 books per month.I have been writing about all the books that I read in my diary since last couple of months. But  I may not have mentioned about some books anywhere , so the actual number may be more.In total , I have read around 80 -85 books this year.

A few books that I loved and I would like to recommend

Lincoln in the bardo by George Sanders - the winner of the man booker prize this year. Abe Lincoln’s youngest son dies.This story is about the president coming to terms with this . More than that, it is the story of the son understanding that he has died. I loved the writing style and the concept.

Trouble with sheep and goats by Joanna Cannon - One day, Mrs.Margaret Creasy simply disappears. Two 10 year old girls who start looking for her and then for God in all the houses of their lane . They believe that He can protect all the persons in their world. The novel is alternately written in voices of the girls and in third person.

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman - An utterly delightful and well written novel about a girl who wants to be very ordinary and almost invisible.

We were liars by E.Lockhart - A YA novel, I normally do not read YA novels but this was recommended on booktube. A very well written novel about a group of teenagers whose life changes one summer.

Farseer trilogy by Robin Hobb - I finished last book of this trilogy yesterday. These are fantasy books and very very chunky. The last book is 850+ pages. They are part of a huge series consisting of 16 books in total. It is a story of FitzChivalry, a bastard son of Prince Chivalry. The story starts when he is 6 year old. His upbringing, his special powers, his profession (of an assassin),his training, the political intrigue, his quests are narrated in a very interesting manner. I like this book for another reason too - this gave me the confidence that I can read really chunky books too.

The end of your life book club - Will Schwalbe . Author’s mother was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. While waiting for the chemo sessions at the hospital , she and Will started discussing the books they have read and this book club was started.

The girl with a dragon tattoo -Stieg Larsson. I watched a marathi play based on this novel . I had read the book many years back but watching the play made me want to read it again. I found it as well written and horrifying as I had thought before.

Universe vs Alex Woods -Gavin Extence . I Loved the character of Alex who is a smart 17 year old , a science nerd and a reader . His great friend is Mr.Peterson who is old, somewhat cranky and grows marijuana. I loved Alex’s voice :smart,funny and stating some profound truths in a simple way.

Uprooted -Naomi Novik. While this may not be the greatest book ever, it is special to me because it got me into the fantasy genre. This is a story of a magical, evil forest and is fast paced and well written.

To the bright edge of the world - Eoin Ivey . This book tells the story of an expedition that Captain Forrester took to the Wolverine river in Alaska. It is also the story of his wife Sophie who had to stay behind.

Lillian Boxfish takes a walk -Kathleen Rooney . Mrs.Boxfish,who is almost 80, takes walk, in New York city, on a new year’s eve, thinking about her life till now. This is a story of struggle of a working woman in 20s.

The uncommon reader-Alan Bennett. The Queen is the uncommon reader who takes up reading at a late age and due to this she finds all her other duties boring. This is a  small ,well written and entertaining book with some great quotes about books and reading.

My aim for next year is to read lesser number of  books but of different varieties including nonfiction , to buy less books and finish the books that I have and to write more .