Sunday, April 7, 2019

Three books that I would be reading next

Three books that I would be reading next
1.Lethal white - Robert Galbraith
I love JKR's Harry Potter books . I like her Cormoran Strike ones. They are okay but I wouldn't  miss them. But then why I am reading this ? Even after deciding that I will not continue the series ?  Well, because I got it free and as a part of my minimalism drive, I have decided to read and/or throw away all the unread books I possess !
This is a thriller and it is the fourth book in the series. I have already started this and I'm about 20% in the book. As with all her books, the characters are well written. The plot moves a bit slowly and takes detours to show us backstories and side stories of the characters. I do like the reading experience but I am find that it evaporates soon from my memory .
2.Fool's errand : Robin Hobb
This is the seventh book in her 16 book long  fantasy series ‘The realm of elderlings’.Unlike the previous JKR series , I love this one and I read other books in between because I don't want to finish the series fast. Because I would find it very heartbreaking to live in the world where there are no more Robin Hobb books to read.
This series consists of 4 trilogies and a quartet. This book is the beginning of the third trilogy. Here we return to the characters of the first trilogy. These are  slow moving books with well written, strong characters and strong plot . They are in fact called literary fiction fantasies. The magic element is not wand wielding, firework inducing thing causing people to transform ,disappear or die. It is more of a mental connection to people and animals and hence feels natural and realistic....if at all there is such thing as natural or realistic magic. And there are dragons , which may not be my favourite trope in a fantasy but they make life interesting in there.
3. There are  many candidates for the post of the third book. There is Circe by Madeline Miller which is an award winning fantasy book. There are also second books in at least 2 different fantasy stories and there are many first books in fantasy series waiting for me . So, difficult to say which book I would pick after finishing these two….
On books that teach me :
Human soul thrives on stories. Books give us that and much more. It teaches us courage , to go forward in spite of fear. It teaches us about truth and reality , that it only our perception , truth cannot be set in concrete.
I believe school teaches us facts and concepts , it introduces us to various subjects. Real education begins after the school and books are our hand-holding, guiding friends for that journey. The lessons they teach stay in our mind, long after the facts and concepts fizzle out. They shape ourworld view.  
I read somewhere ' why read dull, drab self help books,when you have great stories giving you the same wisdom, in an intersting way, so that you will remember and internalize it forever?'
To conclude, books for me are great friends and guides, sometimes more than the real people...



Monday, January 28, 2019

Audiobooks ?

I am a more visual person than auditory. In school I never understood a topic by merely listening to it , I had to read it myself. So,it is not surprising that I do not go for audiobooks. Only written word for me ! On paper or on electronic books… I read !

But I feel audiobooks are here to stay . Like all new things , they may have resistance in this generation of readers. My generation has embraced the electronic reader with gusto , next generation will audiobook their way through their TBR pile ! As long as they love books, one should be happy about it.

I can see certain advantages in audio books over ebooks/paper books.  When you are driving and you have a long commute , you can listen to a book . A good way to utilize the time !

Also,  if in old age,God forbid, your eyesight becomes weak, you can still 'read’ a book.

In my opinion , the most wonderful experience of an audiobook would come from  a work of fiction or a book that would have a lot of dialogues . Here the author / narrator would enunciate the dialogues and the character would come alive in your mind. Different accents, tones, voice modulations … sometimes the way words are said , may change the whole meaning !

I recently heard an audiobook..’ 84, Charing Cross Road’ by Helene Hanff. It is an epistolary book based on the correspondence between the american author and a British bookseller. The way the narrators made the characters alive was wonderful ! I almost decided to buy an audible membership !

But then I heard another audiobook. The book was a nonfiction one called ‘ Goodbye things ‘ by Fumio Sasaki. I had no problems with narration or the content of the book , but when I tried to look for a particular idea expressed in the book , I couldn't. It may be easy on Audible, I am not sure ,but since this was a freely available book on you tube , I was lost.

So,in conclusion , I will say that for now,  I will stick to my e-reader and physical books, but I will surely keep my ears open ….

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Favourite books 2018

The year 2018 was very good in terms of reading as I mentioned in my previous post. I read so many good books, that it was very difficult for me to choose my favorite ones. Some books which I enjoyed reading did not remain so in my memory, so I demoted them to honorable mentions. Some books, however, have remained in my mind, long after I finished them. In lingering there, they have risen in my mind. Here is the list of my favorite books.

1.84, Charing Cross Road : HeIene Hanff

This is a nonfiction epistolary book about the correspondence between the author and a London bookseller. I loved this book so much that I read by it immediately after I finished it.

2. Diary of a bookseller : Shaun Bythell

Again a nonfiction book, on books. This is, as the title says, diary of a bookseller ! It is written in a diary format( as the title says !)  and is very funny.

3. Broken earth trilogy : N.K.Jemisin

I know this is cheating because I am including 3 books here. But as this is my list, I follow only my rules!

This is a fantasy series with the magic system based on natural energy of earth. I loved this series because the story and characters were good ,the writing was simple,beautiful and flowing. Most importantly, the way in which the story was told in second person ,was unique and intriguing and as we realise in the last book ,was very important for the story.

4. The final empire : Brandon Sanderson

This is the first book in the long fantasy series Mistborn. The magic system here is very interesting, based on burning/utilising metals inside your body. As I have read only the first book I will not comment on the story or characters here ,but I will say that Sanderson is a terrific writer.

5.The seven deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle :

A very unusual mystery where the time is warped and characters go round and round on the same story arc. Loved it for the unique idea and will be rereading it soon.

6. Sapiens : Yuval Noah Harari

This book took me the longest time to finish, no fault of the book as such. I kept on getting distracted by new fiction books. I am going to reread this book ,at some point in future.

7.Holding : Graham Norton

I read 2 books by this author in 2018. Though both were good, I preferred this one. This is a mystery but rather a slow one and has very well written characters. An unusual thing about this book is the protagonist who is an obese , good natured ,middle aged policeman who actually has a love life.

8. Ship of magic : Robin Hobb

Robin Hobb has become one of my favourite fantasy authors. This book is a part of a really long series called’ The Realm of Elderlings’ ,and  is composed of multiple trilogies and quartets. This book is the first in the second trilogy. Though there is a common thread in all the trilogies,this one appeared totally unrelated. But I am patient (and eager… ),eventually, when I read all the 16 books I will know…

9. Little fires everywhere : Celeste Ng( pronounced Ing)

This is a good ,old, solid, family ,emotional drama..

I loved it because it is written in a easy,flowing language, with great characters and a great story with a fantastic twist…

10. The western wind : Samantha Harvey

This book has a beautiful cover,but I have the e book so …

When I read it , I was irritated because of the slow pace. Though it was a murder mystery, the story is told backwards and when I reached the last page , I couldn't see the point. It was as if the author wanted me to live life as if in 13th century when the book begins. I gave it only 3 stars. But slowly ,the book has grown on me. I will probably re read it in this or the next year.

So, that is my list of 2018 favourites..

What are your favourite books ? Have You read any of these ? If yes, what is your opinion ?





Friday, January 4, 2019

Bookish thoughts on 2018 & 2019

Bookish thoughts on 2018 & 2019

I had set certain goals more myself at the beginning of 2018 and I am ashamed to admit that I haven't been able to complete any of those.

I failed to utilise the  library.

I failed to discipline or curb my buying.

I failed to read more genres. Just refused to step out of my comfort zones.

Did not read much nonfiction.

Did not write or blogg.

Only thing that I achieved was getting rid of some of my not loved books.

So, this year , my only goal is to read less,read properly and not to buy any book and yes , not to hesitate to give up reading books which do not interest me and not be embarrassed about my reading tastes.

My top 18 favourites of 2018 :

I read over 110 books this year. I am giving an approximate figure as I deleted my goodreads in my detox fit. Also some library books and some physical books as well as marathi books  haven’t been noted down anywhere.

I tried to make a list of 5 books -failed, 10 & 18 books - also failed. I am unable to choose less than 35 books. This task has become too daunting .
Finally, giving up the thought of writing short summary for each book,  I have decided just to enumerate the books in 2 lists - favourites and  honorable mentions . They are in no particular order , again, because I have failed at ranking them...

Honorable mentions first :-

Soul of an octopus - Sy Montgomery - nonfiction

This is going to hurt - Adam Kay -nonfiction/memoir

Seven husbands of Evelyn Hugo - Taylor Jenkins Reid -Literary fiction

The hoarder -Jess Kidd - Fantasy/ literary fiction

The butchering art -Lindsey Fitzharris -  nonfiction

If cats disappeared from the world - Genki Kawamura-Fantasy/ literary fiction

Ghostwritten -David Mitchell - Fantasy/ literary fiction

The great passage -Shion Miura - literary fiction

Gillespie and I -Jane Harris - historical fiction

Bleaker house - Nell Stevens - nonfiction/ memoir

The rabbit back literature society -Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen - Fantasy/ literary fiction

Tinman -Sarah Winman - literary fiction

A monster calls -Patrick Ness - literary fiction

A tale for the time being - Ruth Ozeki -literary fiction

Psychology of time travel -Kate Mascarenhas-  mystery / science fiction

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2018 and 2019

(I know, absolutely boring , generic title !)

Last year had both highs and lows for me….both good and bad things happened which were the firsts for me.

I lost my father in January . Losing a parent is something which you never imagine or are prepared for, whatever be your age . My mother trying to contact me at work and network not functional , was nightmarish. Even more distressing, is the thought, that, my mother will be staying all alone now.

I started learning flow cytometry in April  , something which I never thought I would do ,at such a late stage in my career. This has given me a purpose in life. I had almost given up hopes that something good and exciting would happen to me on my career front. Money was never a problem , but motivation was. I know that I do not have time to become the best hematopathologist in India or even Mumbai but I am happy that I will be a hematopathologist and not just a practising pathologist.

I also started following Dr. Dixit diet that has only 2 meals per day. 2 months into it and I still have ups and downs. But ultimately the lesson is enjoy the journey and not to give up. No plans can apply to all individuals and adaptations are necessary. My aim is to achieve good glycemic control and energy, weight loss is welcome, but not mandatory. I find that regular walking has taken away many of my physical complaints, modification of certain habits has created more time and taken away my preoccupation with food and my willpower muscle has started developing . But I will say, the journey has just begun.

I took a small break from social media in November that helped me in deaddiction . I wouldn't mind doing it permanently . One thing to consider in this new year.

My other addictions - books and nail polishes continued this year. But now I have had enough......Or so I feel. So this year will try to follow a no buy policy for these 2 things. And try to utilise and then dispose off whatever I have.

I tried to embrace minimalism but failed. I will try it again , but not in 2019 , later sometime .

At the beginning of this year,  I find that I don't want to read . This will certainly be helpful in my no buy goal. Last few books I read were unexciting  , that may have prompted this.

Nail art is a hobby which I enjoy and will continue to do so but with no new purchases.

Journaling is another hobby which I intend to continue. Blogging probably will not happen and if it happens , it will be only for my eyes...no sharing.

This year I want to connect with more people - friends ,old and new , I don't know how that will happen because I am a asocial , reclusive, introvert , but let's see. Another thing that I want to do is travel and visit places which is absolutely lacking in my life.

I would like to continue watching plays and selected movies. I would also like to restart singing and drawing. I attended a singing programme in December and I was really inspired. But that will involve getting rid of my inhibitions and self doubts. Difficult but ultimately very rewarding !

I want to be more organized personally and professionally. I may achieve a lot more that way. But currently I lack motivation.

So, that is looking forward and back simultaneously. I know, there is a sameness in every new year post, but though the year changes, the person stays the same...
Enough writing, now it is the time to live life ...

Saturday, November 10, 2018

My music

I have been training in Hindustani classical vocal for last 6 years. Let me confess without modesty that my voice is good and I sing well (that is film songs , not classical ) but that's it ! I am no closer to understanding music than I was 6 years back.

My teacher has been urging me to give these Gandharva Mahavidyalaya exams , but I don't want to. One reason is my exam phobia , and the other is this feeling that I am an imposter.

I am learning music with my left, logical brain. She teaches a song , a bandish , a raag aaroh-avroh-pakad and I learn it as a challenge….a new thing to be learnt. My right brain does not participate in this process and I don't see the whole raag as a complete picture.

Perhaps I don't have the musical intelligence.

This was written 2 years back. Since then ,the update is that ,I have stopped learning altogether. I have also stopped bathroom singing and listening to music. I have started feeling that music has left me...I have no real interest left in learning or listening to music, singing is strenuous and listening to songs does not give me any joy. Does this reflect my inner depression or it is just that my attention is taken up by myriad of other things, such as whatsapp and youtube which are much easier as they are passive and provide a highly satisfying diversion to any activity which needs active participation and engagement ? Am I running away from things ? I will probably regret this in my after-life or even at the end of my life : I did not use my God-given gifts, I simply chose to ignore them and prefer time-wasting passive diversions.

But I do not want give up hope ...one day the whole picture would be revealed to my inner eye or rather ear. Till then , I must preserve my voice...

Readathons or rid-(of reading)-a-thons ?

Readathons and my inability to participate in one: (readathons or rid-(of reading)-a-thons ?

Readathon no 1 : The autumn readathon( #autumnreadathon)

We don't really have autumn in India- Mumbai. It is summer,rainy season and winter. In reality, it is the summer most of the time, hot,humid and uncomfortable. A couple of months of cold weather where we don't even need sweaters.Hence the concept of autumn readathon for India is a little far fetched.

But on thinking again,it is not so far fetched after all ! May be ,by reading about cold, I will feel a bit comfortable in this bad October weather. A much needed respite from heat?

Or I can read autumn readathon books in my cabin at work,where it is winter all the time … The only place in Mumbai where I need a sweater all round the year …

Enough of introduction and small talk…

On to the books…

The first book that I have chosen and already start reading is ‘ Winter evenings’ by Navtej Sarna. The name and the cover is wintry,icy.I have read first two stories and they are equally wintry. And...surprise,surprise ….beautiful too… I am not much of a short story reader.I also avoid Indian fiction whenever possible. That is the reason I wanted to read this book in first place, to read something which I don't usually read.I will come back with more on this book when I finish.For now I will only say that I will read this book slowly ,over next week or so. That is how short stories are supposed to be read , as I have learnt recently. I never did that, I started reading at the beginning and went non-stop.

I read many stories from that book but not all. I loved the Maugham style stories but when author started describing the poverty and oppression in India,I gave up. That is the precise reason I dont want to read Indian fiction. They are either very realistic and describe the issues which as a upper middle class background ,I will never experience in reality and have no interest in them. I prefer reading good stories or something about my inner turmoils. Even though we are financially comfortable,it doesnt mean we are happy,satisfied.

The other book which I borrowed from the library was a short story collection of christmas murder mysteries which I enjoyed immensly.

That was all for my #autumn readathon !

Readathon no 2 : non fiction November : #nonfictionnovember

Since I failed spectacularly in ‘really’ participating in autumn readathon , I thought I will make it up by participating in #NonfictionNovember.

This is a month long readathon and we are supposed to read non-fiction books based on the prompts provided. The prompts are certainly interesting - 4 pairs of similar sounding words which can encompass literally any book in the world by stretching your imagination.

They are

1.wander/wonder

2.self/shelf

3. Past time/Past-time

4.Macro/micro

I had an ambitious reading list for this.

1.wander/wonder - diary of a bookseller -  I am “wonder”ing about this profession

2.self/shelf- scribbles in the margin - something on my kindlebook”shelf” and a book about books which again suggests “shelf”

3.past time/past-time- Did she kill him-  a book set in the past

4.Macro/micro-Gene: an intimate history-nothing can be more micro than a gene and its manifestations are really huge”macro”

I am proud of my list !

But ...but ...but ... I know I will not read any of these ...

I have reached my annual “I have no wish to read” state !

Still, the readathon says ,you have to read at least 1 non-fiction book more than you usually do. I have read 1 non fiction book,rather one half,which is definitely more than my usual number,which is zero ! I read “ penguin non-fiction collection: volume 3” ,that is at least fifty percent of its essays.

I feel it is the turning of pleasurable activity into a to-do list that has killed the reading pleasure or it may be just that I overdid the whole “ I love books and reading and nothing else matters” thing. Or may be the underlying thought was “Reading is a happy ,pleasurable thing , why should I follow somebody’s dictates ? Rebel !!!!!”

In short , my readathon participation has resulted in my giving up reading altogether ! Last straw , cause-and-effect or coincidence remains to be seen !!